Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
Growing up, Lent was never part of our church tradition, but last year I became very interested in the opportunity to specifically focus on the meaning of Christ’s passion during the Easter season and began my own observation of Lent. It was such an enriching experience that I’ve decided to engage again, so I’ve done a bit of research.
“Lent” comes from an old English word meaning “spring” and is the 40 days prior to Easter. Typically, it’s a time of penitence and can include fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (charitable gifts). It is also a time of self-denial. I love the idea of “spring,” a time for spiritual renewal and refreshing in Christ.
I think for years I rejected the thought of observing Lent because it seemed to me to be an effort by practitioners to merit God’s favor, something that only comes through his grace. But last year as I contemplated my own practice of Lent, I gained a whole different perspective.
Why not grasp Lent as an occasion of thanksgiving for all God’s faithful blessings, I wondered. So I moved into the season skipping as many meals as practical (some might call it fasting), which gave me additional time for prayer and reading of spiritual material. As I pursued study, meditation, and prayer, Lent became a gift rather than a burden. Additional study brought new insights and with that came joy. Prayer brought to mind needs I’d never contemplated along with hearts that longed for divine intervention and ministry. A greater sense of God’s presence became part of my daily experience to the point that I hated to see the approach of Easter, which signals the end of Lent. But, of course, Easter always brings its own joy as we celebrate a risen and ascended Lord who now inhabits the lives of all believers.
I have been looking forward to Lent for months now. Instead of seeing it as denial of myself, I view it as opportunity to move more closer into God’s presence. If you’ve never tried Lent – no matter your church tradition – may I encourage you to prayerfully consider taking advantage of this little space on the church calendar to draw nearer to Jesus. I think you’ll be glad you did. (I’d love to hear about your experience.)
Father, how blessed we are that we can fellowship with you and that you want to share the joy of your presence. Welcome now and forever. AMEN.