We don’t celebrate Lent like we do Advent. We don’t put up a Lent tree or decorate our homes with Lenten lights. I suppose it’s not that sort of season. Lent calls us to quiet reflection, fasting, sacrifice, repentance and gratitude toward our Savior who walked steadfastly to the cross where He saved us from our sins.
Our culture also doesn’t embrace Lent like it does Thanksgiving or Christmas. We live in a world that celebrates success and self-confidence, not surrender and devotion. For those outside the church, contemplating the suffering and death of Jesus doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the values and ambitions of the world. In these ways, Lent invites us to set ourselves apart from the culture around us, even as it calls us to pray for those who have not yet received Jesus as Lord.
You may notice as we go through the weeks leading up to Easter that we will sing more hymns about the cross and that I will preach about God’s grace made visible through Jesus. I hope these Lenten themes help focus your heart on Jesus’ sacrifice and on His call to take up your cross as you follow Him.
You may also think about fasting during Lent. For some believers, fasting is a common devotional practice during this season, as people give up certain foods or activities to symbolize the sacrifice Christ made for us. Fasting from a favorite food may be helpful for your spiritual life, but let me suggest a few other Lenten fasts that can nourish your soul and may also impact the world around us.
For example, you could fast from dwelling on anxious thoughts and negative ideas. It’s hard to break the cycle of negativity, especially when the world is drowning in it, but God invites you to bring your needs and worries to Him. He can help you overcome fear, replacing anxious thoughts with the peace that passes understanding. When worries rise in your mind, turn quickly to God in prayer and give thanks for all the blessings He provides.
You could fast from arguing and expressing your opinion, especially on political topics that have divid-ed our nation and torn families apart. There’s nothing wrong with feeling strongly about certain issues and political agendas. We Americans like having opinions and cherish the right to express them, but sometimes hold-ing your tongue is wise. Sometimes it’s best to make peace instead of winning an argument.
Similarly, you could fast from posting unkind or judgmental comments online. Humans have invented countless ways to hurt each other, and now we’ve added social media to the list. While you fast from posting hurtful comments, perhaps you could also fast from reading and sharing what others post.
You could fast from putting yourself first and from insisting you get your way. Jesus told us that in His kingdom the first will come last and the last will be first. He cautioned us against selfish ambitions and self-seeking demands. Instead, Jesus told us to put the needs of others ahead of our own and to lay down our lives for our friends.
The weeks leading up to Good Friday bring our Lord’s suffering and death into focus for us. However you choose to celebrate Lent, I hope you will dedicate yourself all year long to honoring Jesus and remember-ing the sacrifice He made on your behalf. May you know God’s truth and experience His grace, and may the good news of Jesus continue to radiate from your life and from our church.