Matthew 4:1 (New Living Translation)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
We’re entering into the Christian season of Lent: six weeks of introspection, prayer, fasting, and repentance. From tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, through Easter Sunday on April 20th, we take time to consider where our lives are out of alignment with God’s will, to pray for forgiveness, and to return our hearts to God.
In our worship planning meeting last week we half-jokingly called this season of the church “Six Weeks of Self-Loathing.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that?
Lent is deeply counter-cultural. In the United States we take the “pursuit of happiness” very, very seriously. We avoid anything that smacks of negativity or sacrifice or self-denial. Often we think that church should be a place where we go to feel good about ourselves. And– to an extent– that is true. We come to worship, to remember the amazing promises of God, to celebrate how God has been at work in our lives, and to rejoice that the Creator of the entire universe loves little, tiny us.
But… if church is no more than a feel-good experience, then we ministers have done you a grave disservice. Because God wants us to experience joy, love, and peace in more than just a surface way. Being a Christ-follower is meant to be nothing less than life-transforming. And there are places in our lives that keep us from that reality– places that aren’t healthy or helpful.
That is what Lent is about. It is not meant to be six weeks of self-loathing! It is meant to be a fabulous opportunity to sincerely examine our lives, and to invite God into those areas where we need God’s healing.
What questions do you have about this season of Lent?