We are in the season of Lent. Lent comes from lencten in old English, means “Spring.” It is a season of inward reflection and discipline. It is based on the 40 days Jesus was in the desert fasting, and the time of his temptation by Satan, the prosecuting attorney in the heavenly courts.
Jesus was in keeping with a central motif in Scripture. Noah’s ark floated for 40 days and nights. Moses fasted 40 days when he received the Torah from God on Sinai. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. (I imagine you get the idea that 40 is rather significant in scripture.)
Well, the church continues that motif. Lent is 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to Easter (minus the Sundays in between; those are feast days). It’s the color purple for Royalty (as it was in Rome), and reminds us that it is a time to look more deeply at what we can do as individuals and as a community to further the transformation our journey with Jesus is designed to accomplish in the world. We are asked to look at where we miss the mark we set for ourselves, which is the meaning behind the archery term sin, a word that has become so loaded with the weight of theologies of shame, guilt, and condemnation throughout christian history. It’s a healthy thing to shake those weights off and look again at the goal we missed, instead of giving up on the enterprise.
We are asked to take on a discipline throughout Lent. Typically, we give something up as a fast, since Jesus fasted for 40 days. If giving up chocolate or caffeine doesn’t really stick after Lent, another option is to take something on. Perhaps try on the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer. Take time to rest and/or do something fun instead of that extra 3-4 hours of work. Haven’t been to the beach or the hills in a while? Make that your discipline this year! Struggling to recognize God in our homeless neighbors? Help with Abode Shelter Meals and Sacred Space. Lent isn’t about feeling worthless and suffering; it’s about growth. It’s about recognizing the temptations that detract us from love: love of God, love of neighbor, love of self. May we grow deeper in love this Lent.
Rev. Jeff Dodge