THE JOY OF LENT
The journey of Lent is no easy stroll. During Lent, we walk with Jesus to the cross. Lent is a time to examine our discipleship, to compare ourselves to Jesus. This is not a joyful work for we all know we sin and fall very short of the glory of God. Lent is a time for confession of sin and somber repentance. There is a reason why the symbols of Lent are sackcloth and ashes. Is our faith what it should be or could be? Is God my highest
priority, my first thought, my greatest love? These are the questions of Lent. Like Paul, Lent demands that we cry out to God, “Why do I keep doing the things I know I should not do, and not do the things I know I should do?” No, the journey of Lent is no easy stroll. Lent can be a lot like kale; it is very healthy for us but who really likes it?
Even so, as I look back at previous seasons of Lent in my life, to my surprise, I
remember a lot of joy. I remember telling one congregation that I gave up two things for Lent, cliff-diving and my dreams to become a Gold Medal winner as a slalom racer in the Olympics. I remember a Lutheran pastor and friend telling me that his wife had given up cussing for Lent, and it was about to kill her. More seriously, I see clearly a group of 15 men joining my church for our Lenten lunches. These men were transitioning from prison. I smile as I recall my church family members hugging them, introducing them around,
welcoming them to their seats, bringing them food. Anyone could see that they were not used to receiving such loving attention. Those men were adopted by my church folk and my congregation decided to add a project to their Lenten journey and offered to do some work at the home these men shared. It needed a lot of work. We painted, and plumbed, and rewired, and painted, and gardened, and trimmed hedges, and painted, and
re-shingled, and repaired drywall, and painted, and built stone borders, put in a walkway, and we painted. As I sit here, I am remembering the many times I have experienced the unity of the church as many different denominations in the communities in which I
ministered came together in Lenten worship, and as members of our denomination with different skin tones came together to break bread and share our love for God in prayer and the hearing of God’s Holy Word. I have been so blessed as I watched God’s people offer dramas of Lent in their fellowship halls and on their city streets, and as the Stations of the Cross were shared in a space covering 10 city blocks. These are the beautiful, joyous memories of Lent that I will forever carry in my heart.
May this year, 2018, be the year when you are blessed by the joy of Lent.