LENT – A Journey to the Cross 2021
How excited can you get about a season that starts by focusing on the certainty of death . . . yours specifically? Cheer up, you’re going to die sooner or later! As C.S. Lewis commented, “100 percent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased!” Well, yes and no. You will die physically at some point, but that’s not the end. God has the last word and it is not death for those who die in Christ Jesus. A better word for Christians is “departure.” You depart this life for eternal life beyond death.
For many people being reminded about death and having to “give something up” are the primary thoughts regarding Lent. . .and are two good reasons to think about something else! The truth is, they are not really the point of Lent at all. The root of the word “lent” simply means “spring” new life, buds, blossoms, the end of the long winter. Sounds more like life than death to me. Though observing a season of fasting and prayer were practiced regularly during the first centuries of the church, the days prior to Easter were initially devoted to the final preparations for those being baptized into a new life in Christ.The primary time for baptisms was Easter Sunday. By the fourth century we began to see more widespread evidence of a six week period of preparation for Easter by the whole Christian community, with fasting, almsgiving, and prayer being key elements. You see then, Lent is not a Catholic thing as many people believe. Though it was at times subject to abuse in the Roman Catholic church.
The heart of the Christian faith is our participation in the life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus as Lord. Those things affect us personally. While Advent is concerned with the final Judgment, the Incarnation, and the birth of Jesus, this season points us to the price paid for redemption bringing new life. It is our prayer that these days leading up to Easter Sunday will further shape us into the image of Christ as we reflect with repentant hearts what he has done to free us from the bondage of our sinful selves.
A short word about the Scripture passages themselves. The Bible was written originally without chapters and verse numbers. With that in mind, I left out the verse numbers so that it reads a little differently. I find it easier to grasp the whole thought this way. I trust you will find the same. The translation I used is the New Living Translation. The music we have chosen comes from a wide variety of sources and ensembles simply reflecting the wonder and creativity of God’s handiwork. Nothing you hear or see is original, the composers have simply rearranged the notes God made!
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