Reflections on Lent

Lent arrives with full force in March with the very second day being Ash Wednesday, followed by the forty days of preparation as we ready ourselves for Easter. Lent is often associated with giving something up—letting go of a bad
habit or unhealthy intake of junk food—kind of like a reboot of New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes that giving up is of something we really enjoy—sacrificing something that makes us feel a loss—like a music lover abandoning their streaming service for a month. Both of those forms of letting go touch on the purpose of Lent.

First, Lent is meant to be a cleansing season where we scrub our spirits clean, readying ourselves to receive anew the
wondrous gift of new life in Christ. What habits or practices do we need to let go of to lead fuller, richer, and healthier lives?
Second, Lent is meant to be a time of coming clean, admitting our mistakes, missteps, and misdeeds. We suffer the penalty for being less than we needed to be. We suffer the consequences of doing something wrong. We hurt a bit to feel the depth of remorse. To truly be effective, though, we really need to go a lot deeper than driving past Krispy Kreme for a month.

What habits and practices really touch our souls?
What have we said or done that really hurt someone else or ourselves?
Maybe we really do need to let go of our streaming habit, not to superficially deprive us of an enjoyable hour, but because we actually are spending way too much time online, closing ourselves off from the real people actually in the same room with us who would love nothing more than having an actual conversation. Maybe we really do need to curtail our beer intake because it is actually more than quaffing a pleasant brew, it is a need—a need we order our days around—a need that begins to starve other needs we have. Maybe we have spent so little time with God that we really no longer know the Source of all life because we have crowded our lives with so many other things that we no longer have any sense of the holy.
Maybe we need to check how we relate to people—people we see each day—strangers who fill the stores we visit, neighbors
who have brought a different flavor to the neighborhood, people trying to live their lives among us—are we communicating that they also are children of God? What might we need to let go of to make that our first impression?
Such considerations make Lent what it is meant to be. It is a reawakening to the presence and power of Christ and his gospel of reclamation, restoration, reconciliation, redemption, and resurrection. We truly pass through the gate of the new life found in him.