While Easter is a popular holiday and may be the most important Christian holiday (next to Christmas), many of us have a pretty weak understanding of what it is all about. For example, Easter often sneaks up on us: we may not even think of it until the annual church brunch is announced. ...
Lent is the antidote to this oversight. In the Western churches (of the Protestant variety) we don't participate in Lent, historically speaking. We are more comfortable with the joy and celebration of Easter than with the darkness that preceded it. But Lent is a chance to remember the dark before the dawn, the sin that sent Jesus to the cross. In the Orthodox Church, Lent is called the season of Bright Sadness, because it is a time of both celebration and mourning.
But you may well ask: why dwell on the darkness at all? After all, Jesus' work is done. Death has been conquered, Christ is victorious! The cross has answered it all; why should we be sad?
If the cross is the Answer, what exactly is the Question?
Before Christ, the world called out to God (in the words of David, King of Israel),
"How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? " (Psalm 79.5)
Easter is the once-for-all-time answer to this question. Jesus took ourplace on the cross to appease God's righteous anger. He went alone to be punished: separated from God and deserted by his friends. The drama of how this happened is the story of Lent. ... Before the Resurrection comes crucifixion; before crucifixion comes prosecution; before prosecution comes betrayal, doubt, fear, rebellion, and sin.
Lent helps us experience our part in the Passion (suffering) of Jesus. We face our humanity during Lent: we learn that sin still dwells in us, that we still carry darkness. We learn that we, like his disciples, would likely have fallen asleep as Jesus prayed for deliverance in the garden, and, also, that we would likely have denied knowing him as he silently accepted his death sentence.
By the time I got back to the hotel, I realized that I had made the right choice. Becoming a recluse was never a real option; if I had chosen it, it would have been born out of a root of bitterness and selfishness. Like a child stomping off to his room after being punished and pausing to say "I hate you all and I'm never coming out again," before he closes the door, reclusion was a pouty way of saying "I'm angry that I can't have what I want." Which, of course, misses the entire point of Lent entirely.
Today, as my hands strayed towards seeking out what I had given up, I checked my heart and saw my heart motives; I am stressed. I am tired. I am hurting. And I am looking for release, soothing, comfort and shelter. And I sought those things in the comfort of my friends. And I'm not saying that is a bad thing; Certainly our God created us for community and to not be alone. But in that moment, I was alerted to the condition of my heart and the depth of my need. I saw my weakness and remembered my Jehovah Jireh. Instead of reaching out to friends through cyber space, I reached out to my Abba Father. Instead of putting out a cry for help to my friends, I whispered a prayer to my Yeshua.
Being aware of my heart condition is not something I have always had. Sadly, I must confess that it was my lack of immaturity that allowed this to go on for so long. Impulsively, I would act outwardly what I was feeling internally, before I even knew how my heart was feeling. Self control is another subject entirely; it isn't what I'm getting at here. I'm suggesting that knowing what I'm feeling allows me to address the needs of my heart in the most appropriate way when those needs arise.
Choosing to give and let go has helped me to see how much more I really have.