Lent 2024What is Lent?  Lent marks the 40 days leading up to Easter, mirroring the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.  It is a practice that began during the 4th century as a way that Christians can prepare for the holiest days of the year.

During Lent, we ask God to show us the world as it is.  We begin with the reality of our finiteness rubbed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday.  "From dust we were made and to dust we shall return."  Then we walk through the reality of the downward slope of God, as the whole church walks toward the cross.

Lent is one of my favorite parts of the church calendar, because it is a time when the whole church is on the losing team.  It is a time when we all get a minute to tell the truth - life is so beautiful and life is so hard for everyone.

Of course, the cross isn't the end of the story, but this season of grief is carved out to acknowledge the reality of Christ's sacrifice and the reality of suffering that so many of our circumstances reflect too - our own pain, grief, and despair.

Easter is coming, yes.  But for now we sit in the ashes of our broken dreams and broken hearts, knowing that God sits here with us.  Many people practice Lent by giving up something, such as meat, alcohol, chocolate, social media, etc.  Some take up something new, such as a new prayer practice, devotional, or maybe checking on a different church member each day.  Lent is an incredible moment for the spiritual honesty we're practicing here.  Together, we're going to bless the days we have here, while longing for the future God promised - where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more email.

Lent lasts for 40 days, but Sundays don't count.  These are mini-Easters when we take a day off from whatever we are abstaining from or committed to.  These Sundays are to remind us that we are made for both grief and joy, both sorrow and delight.

Strangely, this may feel like a hard thing to do - to make yourself stop working, or worrying, or checking off your day's reading - and really REST.  But over the next six weeks, you're invited to press against that part of your wiring that tells you that you must always be accomplishing, producing, or processing - that everything must be for something.  Take the Sundays off from the Lent-y feelings and practice the discipline of Sabbath.  Rest, eat, and enjoy!

Pastor Jen