I hope by now you’ve read something good about Lent. The best reflection I read this year was from The Fog Blog. It just covered all the basics so well.
My all time favorite Lent Sermon, the one that started me observing Lent in the first place was from Ash Wednesday 2003, by Telford Work, the professor I did most of my undergrad degree with. It made this season make sense to me.
But honestly, I love it most because he told us, “Get your ash up here.”
This year, my Lent is pretty standard, in a lot of ways. I’m fasting from sugar. I always try to select something fundamentally good that I’ve noticed myself depending on in a way it was not designed for. (Last year was TV and Facebook. In 2003 it was Starbucks.)
Since I found myself acting as if Ben and Jerry could heal my hurting heart (fine for a breakup, but not for this), I knew that sugar would be the right thing to fast from. In so doing, I am reminded that only God is the binder of the broken hearted. He is, in the most fundamental way, all I need. Everything else is extra.
That is a big part of what Lent, all fasting for that matter, is about. We choose to say ‘no’ to something we like but don’t really need in order to be mindful of what, or rather who, we most need.
But this year, there is another reason I need Lent. I need Lent because it prepares us for Easter. And more than ever before, I need to know that Easter is coming.
The resurrection is the greatest hope of my heart. In the past, I’ve been eager for the day that God makes all things right again because of the pain of others. I’ve pled for the kingdom to break through as I’ve watched the suffering of others.
But right now, I just want it all for me.
I love how Paul describes the resurrection, both original and future:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith….[And] those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But in this order: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. -1 Corinthians 15: 13-14, 20-26
Hope has been a major theme of this grieving process–what is it, how does one get it, how life is affected by its presence or absence.
And hope lies smack dab in the center of Easter. Easter declares that Christ is alive, even though he died. Easter declares that we can expect the same.
Easter is the reason I know that Kate and Lucy dying is not the end of the story.
So I am loving Lent, because every self-denial of the sugar I don’t need reminds me of what is yet to come.
There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes
Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees