Every year millions of people around the world make new year’s resolutions. They pledge that this will be the year that…they go back to school, they make a career change, they will better themselves in some way. They resolve to be better parents, better friends, be better people. They resolve to become healthier, to lose weight and/or to become more physically active. Sadly, statistics show that the vast majority, perhaps as many as 80% of people give up on those January resolutions by February.
Sometimes giving up on a resolution happens because, beyond the stated goal, there is no real tangible plan to achieve it. The same is often true for any Christ-followers. We sincerely want to grow in our faith but we lack a workout plan to help us grow. The church year, including the season of Lent, is one such way that the ancient church sought to help guide believers in exercising and growing their faith, in knowledge and experience.
Just as the season of Advent/Christmas is one of expectation and fulfillment so too is the season of Lent. In Advent we wait in expectation for the coming of the Savior and we celebrate that reality on Christmas day. During Lent, we are reminded of why Christ came. In Lent we wait in expectation for Jesus’ redemptive work and we celebrate its fulfillment at the empty tomb and in the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost.
This season, I want to invite you to journey with God’s people down through centuries into the death of Jesus and out of his resurrection. Robert Webber states that “Lent is a journey into death, a death that will result in a new birth”. Webber goes on to say that “during lent we journey into an event that not only happened in history as an actual occurrence that changed history but an event that happens within us”.
As kids at Christmas we can hardly wait for the day to arrive. We often try to sneak a look inside our presents. On Christmas day, we rush through the opening of presents as quickly as we can and then move on to the next, hardly aware of what we have just opened. Don’t let your Lenten journey be that way. In music, the term lento means ‘at a slow tempo’. During this season of Lent I encourage you to walk slowly. Take time to listen, to ponder anew. Drink deeply of Christ’s work for you on the cross and embrace the full implication of the empty tomb and how, in Christ, we too are raised to newness of life. This season of Lent, I invite you to embrace Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a full faith workout program. Webber describes it as a life-changing experience that “shapes our vision of reality, informs our relationships, forms our values, puts us in touch with transcendence, and causes us to experience the spiritual dimension of life itself”.
Ancient-Future Time: Robert Webber (Baker Books, 2004)