Sometimes I don’t think about Lent until the day before but fortunately this year I was not taken off guard. I have been reminded of Lent through friends and articles and even my own body really wanting warmer weather and the good change of spring making everything green and alive.
Lent is not Roman Catholic. Lent is Christian. It’s not our role to criticize what a tradition has become but rather to exemplify what it ought to be. Lent is important. We are reminded of Christmas coming for weeks on end so when it finally arrives and you get to that candlelight service, your heart is ready to contemplate the divinity becoming a small baby. Messiah performances focus us on the great tradition of inviting Jesus to join the winter festival. Easter gets forgotten. I see Peeps marshmallows in the store but as much as I love Peeps, they don’t help prepare my heart for Easter. Most protestant churches just sandwich Easter in between the normal rhythm of the weekly routines, bracing for the influx of church-goers or make an effort to remind the community they exist. Are you ever caught off guard that Easter has arrived? The most important day of remembrance for the global church catching you by surprise? Lent can be a solution to this unreadiness.
We need to prepare for Easter because by preparing for Easter we are preparing for our own resurrection, or own eternal life. I shouldn’t have to explain why I observe Lent or why it is important but I have had to apologize for the 1,900 year tradition quite often. “Caroline, you’re not Catholic. You don’t have to do that.” No, I don’t have to, but I want to offer my body as a living sacrifice and do it most intentionally the weeks preceding Easter. Like the church has for hundreds of years.
Last year’s Lent, I decided that I wanted to not “give up” but rather give. Fast from wasting time by giving. I gave ten minutes a morning of Thanksgiving prayer. I failed at the daily commitment but it did change my heart’s thankfulness. We don’t just “stop” bad habits but bad habits are always replaced by other habits. This year I am also giving. Jesus, after he was resurrected, told his disciples to go into all the nations and make disciples. With the seven days of the week I will pray for a different nation to have goers and seek to learn about these countries by Google alerts each day. Mondays, Honduras, Tuesdays, South Sudan, Wednesdays, Syria, Thursdays, China, Fridays USA, Saturdays, Pakistan.
Have we ever seen the world so out-of-control and volatile? Have we ever seen so many children starving, killed in the womb, abandoned? Have we ever seen such perverse violence and immorality? What can we do but look to Jesus to be the hope of our world?
When I arrive to the Holy Week, Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Day, I want to know better my God who came to set all nations right.
Give, give up, fast, feast, rest, work, but in this season for the global church, don’t let Easter catch you off guard. Be ready.