As we start this season of Lent I have a feeling in my gut I have to share. I got this feeling when speaking to a few members of my church here in Atlanta about what Lent meant to them. As one of the gentlemen in the conversation expressed what almost came off as sorrow or angst, I asked him why he felt this way. He proceeded to tell me Lent was a time that reminded him of how guilty and imperfect he was. That he always failed his Lent commitments and that this time of year, to him, shined a spotlight on his shortcomings. It was right at this sentence that I got this gut feeling. At this point, feeling slightly uncomfortable, I could only muster the words that Lent was about growth and not perfection. It was only shortly after that I realized he and so many of us are simply focusing on the wrong “idea” of Lent.
Lent is not about perfection. Lent is not about just checking off the boxes on your spiritual commitments or practices. Lent is simply about Jesus. Coming to know and appreciate him and his walk. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring” or “to-rise”. That right there tells us what we should be celebrating during Lent, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The 40 days of Lent representing the time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted and urged by Satan is another direct sign of what we need to focus on…Jesus. Not his perfection and divine will. Yes, Jesus did not give into the Devil’s ways as we all have. Yes, we are weak and impure. But to compare ourselves to the Lord above is wrong. Jesus took this weakness and impurity up on the Cross with Him so we may focus on coming to truly KNOW a God who’s love and desire for us is unfathomable.
So while making sacrifices and alms-giving is important this Lent, lets not just focus on saying our Hail Mary’s and checking off the box. Lets not just give up coffee every morning til Easter and say “I did it!” Spend time with Jesus. Pray for His strength, courage and guidance on your Lenten commitments Remember who is at the center of this celebration! Amen!