The Season of Lent

The trees outside my window are bare and brown. Sunday’s snow has melted and today is unseasonably warm, but the landscape shouts, “Winter!” Almost everything seems lifeless.

Spring is coming, and I’m certain that when we gather to celebrate Easter on April 8th, new life will be pushing through all around us. But some things in life—spring for example—have to be waited for.

You can stand at an east window at 4:00 AM tomorrow morning and will the sun to rise with all your might and it will not come up one minute sooner. Sunrise and spring cannot be rushed or hurried, we can only wait.

The season of Lent (40 days—not counting not counting Sundays—leading up to Easter) helps us to wait purposely for Resurrection Sunday.

Last year I wrote about the history of Lent and what this season has traditionally meant for followers of Jesus. I even suggested a year ago that instead of giving up something for 40 days, you might consider taking something on (like worship, Bible study, prayer or ministry).

I believe that taking on something positive for Lent is the best approach, however, if you are set on giving up something, instead of cutting out chocolate or coffee, how about negativity or complaining?

Or my friend Susan Hughes posted a friend of a friend’s inspired suggestion:

I am giving up junk and clutter…40 bags in 40 days. each day one paper grocery bag of “stuff” will be cleared out of my house! somedays…maybe even two! old clothes, old books, shredding old documents, my over abundance of gladware plastic containers, misc crap… cleaning out closets, junk drawers, boxes in the attic….

Many are the ways to wait for Easter creatively. The purpose of taking on or giving up something is to remind us to return our focus to Jesus and his journey to the cross.

Over the years I have found daily lenten devotionals to be helpful in keeping me focused. I have used Henri Nouwen’s collection Show Me the Way, and this year the Northminster staff is reading Richard Rohr’s Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent. Journeying through scripture with a spiritual guide helps me to pay attention while I’m waiting.

However you choose to wait for Easter this year—giving something up, taking something on, reading something new, following Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem in the gospels—my prayer is that your waiting will be filled with awareness, with surprising insight, with grace and peace.

Ash Wednesday 2012
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2 Responses to The Season of Lent

  1. Kasey Buckland says:

    Love it!!! Thank you for this!

  2. Jo says:

    Really enjoyed this. Love the idea of taking on something for Lent rather than giving something up. Had never heard that idea before. Also love the idea you suggested in a recent sermon of wearing a rubber band around your wrist and switching it to the other wrist when you’re being negative or complaining. I’m doing it! My twist is that when I’m negative or complaining I snap the rubber band on my wrist. Ouch 🙂

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