Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Lenten Challenge

In the middle of February we will begin the liturgical season of Lent. The 40-days before Easter are designed to be a period of self-reflection, preparation, and journeying toward the climactic events of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. In many ways it is similar to the previous season of Advent as we awaited the celebration of Jesus' birth. But Lent is traditionally a time to purge the self of the things that inhibit abundant life and relationship with God. It is a time to go deeper spiritually by increasing our awareness of our sin and to set our hearts and minds on the Kingdom of God.

The weekend before Lent begins many people will celebrate the holiday of St. Valentine; a holiday that traditionally symbolizes love and romance. This is all well and good, but I hope that we don't get so wrapped up in chocolates and candy that we lose sight of the greatest love story of all: the story of God the Creator becoming one of us so that we might know the Way of Love. This is what the season of Lent is all about. So my challenge to you, dear brothers and dear sisters, is to journey with Christ Jesus our Lord through the season of Lent, through Holy Week, to the Cross, all the way through to the other side where the Love and Hope of Easter declare God's Love for the world.

If you are interested in participating in this Lenten challenge, I encourage you to spend time with Jesus by reading in the Gospels over the course of Lent. Journey alongside him during his ministry in ancient Palestine. You may find old stories convey new wisdom or you might discover things you never knew were there. I would also encourage you to spend time in prayer. Though prayer is a somewhat obscure practice, we can be sure that what matters to God is simply a willing spirit (Psalm 51:17). And as Henri Nouwen affirms, "what happens in prayer is not measurable by human standards of success or failure."

So, will you join me in the Lenten challenge? And more importantly, will you join our Lord Jesus on the journey? I would like to write a Lenten reflection sometime in March to continue this focus on the journey of Lent. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences, please email me or comment here because this journey is meant to be shared together.

Eph. 1:5-6 -- God destined us in love to be his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he bestowed on us in the Beloved.

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