Do you celebrate Lent? Lent strikes many as the exclusive domain of Roman Catholics. Growing up I had friends who would give something up for Lent and then bemoan the sacrifice until Easter but it was never part of my family’s Easter celebration. Our Easter celebration, like many other people’s included Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and concluded on Easter Sunday morning. More recently though we have begun using this season as a unique time of preparation as we anticipate the death and resurrection of Jesus. I love thinking of this time leading up to the most important day in our Christian faith as a time to prepare our hearts with reflection, repentance, and prayer. To enter into Easter with a full sense of exactly what it means for us and to us.
That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:12, 13 NLT)
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18 NLT)
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalms 51:1, 2, 10, 12 NLT)
When I think of Easter I can’t help but also think of grace. We are saved by grace. Easter is all about God’s grace, His unmerited favor. And it is available to each one of us, no matter your past or doubts. If you aren’t sure or have never accepted the gift of grace take this season to allow God to work in your heart. This grace, this season, is not about us, it is a gift from God. Would you consider joining me on this 40 day journey to the cross? I hope it to be a humbling and enlightening experience.