Lean Into Lent

Soon we will begin making our way through Lent.  For thousands of years, Christians have used this season as a time to examine our lives, our relationship with God, and ultimately our faith.  During this time we try to strip away all the pretense and illusion.  We devote 40 days to remember what its like to live by grace alone and not by what we can supply for ourselves.  This, perhaps more than anything, is a time for us to give up the illusion that we are, ultimately, in control of our lives! 

When you think about it, this season is among the most countercultural and subversive in the church year!  Confession of sin, focus upon death, honesty about temptation – these matters do not come naturally to us.  We live in a success-worshiping, power-seeking, feel-good culture.  We do just about anything and everything we can to avoid doing the difficult, honest work of Lent.  We try to numb the pain and steer clear of anything that seeks to prove we aren’t all powerful.

But I want to invite you, instead, to lean into Lent.  Rather than run from it, walk towards it.

During this season, think of this as a time where our true selves are examined.  One reason why church can sometimes be uncomfortable is that here we confront so many of the truths about ourselves that we spend so much of the rest of our lives trying to avoid.  Here, in this season, with God’s help, we try to tell the truth about ourselves.  And sometimes the truth hurts.

Some of the greatest, most important work of our lives is coming to terms with the illusions.  It is important to figure out what is fantasy and what is reality; what is dead and what is alive; what is sacred, and what is profane; what is real, honest, worthy of our work and our efforts and of our lives, and what is not.

I invite you to join me in this journey through Lent when we gather together and lean into the difficult truths about how hard it all is, how real life is, and admit that church doesn’t fix it – but gives us a place to go in our brokenness and find people who will hold you in our pain and in our joy.  That, more than anything, is what it means to be church. 

Wishing you a difficult, fruitful Lent.