There are many answers to this question. It’s a season of the church year of course. It’s a time in which people give up something they like, or sometimes things they know they shouldn’t be doing anyway. Some think of Lent as a time in which there are added things – added spiritual practices, almsgiving, service, worship, etc.
But at it’s core, Lent is really about this – preparation for Easter. It’s a time in which we prepare space in our lives for the risen Christ on Easter.
And to get to the risen Christ, we must go through death. Yes, Lent is an intentional time of facing death. It is fitting that we start Lent with Ash Wednesday. It is on Ash Wednesday that death gets right in our face – actually on our face – in the form of ashes on our forehead. We hear the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” There is no escaping death. We are reminded that we are mortal. We are reminded that we can not save ourselves. Rather, there is a Savior for us.
Lent and Easter give us ample opportunity to explore the fullness of the Christian promise – life, death, and resurrection. And to know that we cannot experience resurrection until we go through death. There is no other way.
Resurrection offers us a better life. A renewed life. A life of new possibilities in which the old ways are put aside in favor of something better – even beyond our imagination. The old ways die, but are resurrected as something a bit different. The core of what the old ways were is still there, but the goodness in them is brought out far beyond our wildest imagination.
So what needs to die in your life? What needs to die so that resurrection can take place?
Try letting some or all of the following things die this season: partisan identity and loyalty, addiction to being right, consumeristic tendencies, us versus them beliefs, redemptive violence, scapegoating, blaming, fear, anger, privilege, allowing money to make decisions in your life, brokenness, sin, abuse, participating in unjust systems, putting your salvation in anything or anyone other than God, selectively choosing what to follow of Jesus’ commands, comfort, the wall around your life that protects you from the injustices that others face daily.
When these die, something will be resurrected. In their place will resurrect the ability to see the Image of God in others. In their place will resurrect the wholeness of Shalom. In their place will resurrect creation stewardship. In their place will resurrect forgiveness, love, grace, and peace. In their place will resurrect discipleship and service. In their place will resurrect an empowerment to more fully live into what it means to love God and our neighbor.
Resurrected life is better life. It is transformed life. Why in the world would we want to hold onto the things that prevent us from experiencing resurrected life? The only answer I can come up with is that we are afraid of how resurrected life will change us and that we will no longer be in control. Here’s the reality – we’ve never been in control. Stop fooling yourself. Let that idea die too.
It’s time for resurrected life. Lent is a season of intentionally facing death and letting things die. To make room for Jesus. To allow Jesus to take over. To be conquered by Jesus. So that new life can begin. So that the Kingdom of God can unfold in our lives. So that we can see how it is already unfolding. So we can participate in the unfolding of the Kingdom in our midst.
I pray you have a blessed Lent.