Lent doesn’t have to be a somber time; but to be effective, it needs to be intense. It needs to be taken seriously and rigorously, bringing our full selves to the table. It is worth the strenuous effort, as it enables us to embrace the fullness of the promise of Resurrection and live as disciples of Jesus Christ; disciples who make disciples. So, despite feeling as though we have been in a yearlong season of Lent, we need the season; we need the observance to open us to all God has in store for us. Rend your hearts, so together we can claim the promise.
Lenten message schedule
Feb. 17: Ash Wednesday – Yet Even Now – Pastor Dennis
Feb. 21: 1st Sunday in Lent – This is the Sign – Pastor Greg
Feb. 28: 2nd Sunday in Lent – Walk Before Me – Pastor Dennis
Mar. 7: 3rd Sunday in Lent – All These Words – Pastor Greg
Mar. 14: 4th Sunday in Lent – Look Up and Live – Pastor Cyndi
Mar. 21: 5th Sunday in Lent – Written on the Heart – Pastor Greg
Mar. 28: Palm Passion Sunday – The One Who Comes – Pastor Cyndi
Apr. 1: Maundy Thursday – A Lamb for Each Household – Pastor Dennis
Apr. 2: Good Friday – By His Bruises – Pastor Cyndi
Apr. 4: Easter Sunday – Pastor Greg
You might be asking why we need Lent. After all, we’ve been through the “lentiest Lent that has ever lented,” as someone said last year. And, in fact, all of 2020 was about as Lenten as we can imagine. Sackcloth and ashes-worthy, tearing of the garments and repenting in the dust; yeah, been there, done that, still wearing what’s left of the t-shirt. And self-reflection? What else were you going to do during the months’ long pandemic and lock-down? Physical distancing brought out a lot of introspection, don’t you think? Yeah, maybe we can give Lent a miss this year.
Except, maybe there is more to Lent than the suffering that we’ve endured. Maybe there is more than the reflection and analysis that we are prone to doing. Certainly, these are tools and techniques, practices that we have used and continue to use to achieve the ends that Lent calls us to claim. But as always, it is the end and not the means that defines the season for followers of Jesus.
So, what is the end of the season of Lent? Why do we have this period of preparation, of fasting and self-denial, of repentance and confession, of putting our spiritual house in order? Simply so that we can be prepared for Easter. Lent is about embracing the Resurrected One with a whole and longing heart.
What we discover as we make those preparations is that there are so many things that get in the way of our true embrace of the risen Christ. Some of those things are external, but many of them are internal. They are habits and preferences and inclinations that clutter our souls. So, the season of Lent comes along to give us space and appropriate reminders that we need to clean house to receive the one we call Lord.
Is the emphasis for this season of Lent the rending of our hearts? Or is it claiming the promise? The truth is, we need both: the rending and the claiming. We need to tear out the things that are in the way of truly following Christ, which is not an easy or a simple process. Nor is it something that we can do once and then forget it. It is a constant call for us to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely” (Heb 12:1). But then we also need to lean into the promise of the kin-dom. We need to claim the life that Christ describes and lives out before us, to embrace the joy of the life of faith.Adapted from Lenten Series description by Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church