Reflections on Lent

Lent began yesterday.  I attended my first ever Ash Wednesday service with a real church!  I read some “confessions” and had an ashen cross painted on my head.  It was very nice.  Some twenty people, or maybe less, were there.  Two pastors whom I love orchestrated it.  The lighting was dark, the colors foreboding, and sufficiently somber tones cast themselves over the short service.  Lent is hard for me.  Here is why.
Lent came about in the Church’s reflection upon the humanity of Jesus.  Particularly, it centered on reflections concerning Jesus’ temptation.  For this reason, every first Sunday in Lent the lectionary calls for one of the three stories in the Synoptic Gospels about the devil tempting Jesus out in the desert.  The great lesson learned from these stories is that Jesus refused to take advantage of his power in order to hastily accomplish his goals as the Messiah.  This can be seen most clearly in Luke’s second temptation, Matthew’s third.  The devil offers Jesus authority over all world governments if only Jesus worships the devil.  Jesus could easily avoid his own brutal death by this, but he refuses.
Lent, which lasts 40 days in correspondence to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, quite naturally then, is a time in which we are to refuse temptations that seek to bring the Kingdom of G-d in an expedient yet compromised way.  However, in a culture satiated to the point of numbness, Lent looks like a sheer mockery of Jesus’ time in the wilderness.  Most folks abandon some “vice” for 40 days in order to pick it back up again when the allotted time is up as though Jesus started worshipping the devil upon the resurrection.  We should not treat Lent so insignificantly.

The decision of what to sacrifice for Lent begins with an honest evaluation about what in our lives is guarding us from the Kingdom of G-d.  Truthful reflection in this will be very painful.  Revealing sin in ourselves always hurts.  When we work on these sins by careful discipline and prayer, Easter Sunday becomes a moment of celebration as G-d conquers what detracted us from following the Holy Spirit’s call.  This means, on Easter Sunday, we do not indulge in what we abandoned.  It means we enjoy the fruits of resurrection and new life, free from the bonds of sin.  Lent is not a moment in time; it is an inauguration.  It represents trial by fire that leaves purified that which is burned.  What do you do that blocks the Kingdom of G-d?  Is it greed, gluttony, pride, lust, anger, avarice, or all of these?  Perhaps you should sacrifice your patriotism or your ignorance.  It will be painful, but the celebration of Easter is just up ahead.  Peace!

-ben adam


About ben adam

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we might miss Armageddon because we're too busy watching MTV and CNN. Please, read a book, throw a ball, bake some bread, and for goodness sake, turn the TV off.
This entry was posted in Critique, Easter, Jesus, Lent, Reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

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