Lent is the Springtime of the Church year, a period of preparation for Easter. God's gift to us in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Spirit of life in all its fullness, but we know that there remains an undertow in daily life which carries us away into negativity and forgetfulness. Our lives become old again. We need an annual review.
Perhaps, however, it is not so strange that Lent has not caught the popular mood. Center stage for us is our individual consumption of life, each of us operating on his own profile and image to produce a trimmer, more effective figure. If a person takes up religion in this mood, then it is because God is an asset in this process.
By contrast, the Christian faith promises new life, life in all its fullness to those who open themselves up to God, emptying themselves so that they can be filled with the life that flows from Him.
The Christian Lent is not a time for reinventing the self by a supreme effort. It is a time for opening up to God and seeing through some of the shadows inside us. Jesus the Anointed One faced a crescendo of temptations from desert, to temple wall, to high mountain. He saw through the daydreams about power and possession and emerged equipped by the Spirit for His work.
The Spirit drove him into the wilderness which is indeed a place for confronting oneself at depth. The desert is a great leveler and revealer. Lent is not about my digging about in my darkest self and dwelling there, it is about moving on more deeply into intimacy with God, coming home to God the source of all goodness, light and love.
Lent is the season of deepening intimacy with Jesus. An exciting time. Jesus came because of the great love for me, for all of us. Jesus stayed and Jesus died for love of me, for all of us. A pure gift from the Lover to us the beloved. What did we ever do to deserve this love? Nothing! – again the irony. We have not earned this love, but are continually invited, coaxed and being lured into this rich and holy relationship. I will come to know, God will reveal my brokenness and that I am lovable and I will want to give back, to respond lovingly to this free love.
Lent is a time for reducing some of the chronic over-stimulation which is so much a part of modern living, a time when we protect ourselves a little more from the daily bombardment of images and stimuli, the pressures which keep us trapped on the surface. You will know the pressure points in your own lives, but now is the time for deciding how to use this Lent.
Perhaps by not reading so many newspapers, hearing so much, watching so much, consuming so much, so that we can be liberated from the sick hurry which dulls our capacity to hear the still small voice. Perhaps it is the time to live more simply in order to tighten up the drum skin, so that God's drumbeat can be heard more clearly in our lives. Perhaps it is a time for carving out some solitude so that we can become aware of those senses which are deadened in daily life. The choice is yours. You have to decide what is most relevant. Just giving up chocolate, which can be resumed in a great binge on Easter Day, does little good and can easily fill us with an unhelpful sense of spiritual achievement.
Lent is an opportunity for Springtime cleansing and we can encourage one another in observing it. Let us walk with Jesus these next 40 days, beg to share in His joys and friendships, as well as His sufferings, trials, and betrayals and to invite Jesus into our sufferings, trials, and betrayals, as well as our joys.
This is the good news of Jesus: Come with Me, walk with Me, eat with Me, laugh and weep with Me. And I with you. Be not afraid. Let Me tell you, about you. Listen with your heart. Come to me, I love you.