March 6th begins Lent. Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptations and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
Lent begins in the dimness of late winter and ends with the burst of bright spring. Jesus is, according to John’s gospel, ‘Light of the world’ and that Light, directing his attention to his disciples and through them to us, insists: ‘You are the light of the world. Don’t be hiding under some bushel basket.’ So where do you shine? How do you keep your light lit?
Just between his baptism and the beginning of his adult ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days, ‘to be tested’. What constitutes wilderness in your life? What have you learned there? What might you learn there?
Jesus foiled Satan’s temptation to change rocks into bread before beginning His ministry. While in the wilderness, Jesus was invited to transform stone into bread. Though he resisted the temptation there and then, he became justly renowned for feeding people who were hungry for food, or for love, or for a word of encouragement, or for simple acceptance. Might there be a stony place in you that needs transforming? Some attitude or habit that, with a little attention, might even become a gift for you and others?
I know all these are deep questions and yet they are questions that we need to ask ourselves as we journey through the Lenten season. Seriously consider doubling down in participating in spiritual disciplines, which are fasting, praying, giving, being in service, simplicity, meditating, studying God’s Word, being in solitude, worshiping, confession and celebration.
May your light shine ever brighter as you move through this Lenten season.
Yours in Christ;
Third Friday Community Supper