LENT: Who Needs It?

I’ll confess that I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about Lent. And, to be honest, I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve rarely seen congregations approach Lent with the same kind of enthusiasm or expectancy with which they greet a season like Advent. After all, there are no presents at the end, and no joyful music, cookies, or parties along the way. As for giving up things … Well, most folks I know feel like they’ve already had to sacrifice enough for their jobs or their kids and wonder why they should give up anything more.

Penitence. Sacrifice. Contemplation. These are the words of Lent. And I know few people who embrace them during an age where delayed gratification is viewed with suspicion and advertisements tell us 24/7 that we really can have it all. Which might explain why, each year, as the season approaches I find the same question coming unbidden to mind: Lent: who needs it?

And yet each year, whatever my feelings approaching Lent may be, the same answer comes whispering back: I do. Just maybe ... I need Lent. Just maybe I need a time to focus, to get my mind off of my career, my social life, my future – and a hundred other things to which I look for meaning – and center myself in Meaning itself.
Maybe I need a time to help clear my head of the distractions which any involved life in this world will necessarily bring and re-orient myself toward the Maker of all that was given for my enrichment and which I have let become merely distracting.

And maybe, when all is said and done, Lent really isn’t mine to do with whatever I desire. Perhaps Lent isn’t even the Church’s, to insist upon or discard. Maybe Lent is God’s – God’s gift to a people starving for meaning, courage, comfort, and life.

Seen this way, Lent reminds us of whose we are. The disciplines and additional services of the season aren’t intended as good works offered by us to God; rather, they are God’s gifts to us to remind us who we are, God’s adopted daughters and sons, so priceless that God was willing to go to any length to tell us that we are loved, that we have value, that we have purpose.

Yes. I need Lent, and I believe you do, too. So I hope you will join us for midweek services and fellowship throughout the season. Because I think we need an absence of gifts so that we can acknowledge the Gift. We need a time of quiet and reflection so that we can hear once again the good news of who we are – God’s heir and Christ’s co-heir – so that, come Easter, we can rejoice and celebrate with all the joy, all the revelry, all the anticipation, of a true heir to the throne.

Pastor Lose

Senior Pastor-Elect