It’s odd to even say it, but Lent may be one of my favorite seasons of the church year.
No, it’s not a wardrobe-related love (although sporting purple shoes and ashes does seem to be a trend just waiting to catch on). It has nothing to do with the music (in fact I miss the “Alleluias” that we bury for the season). It isn’t even the hope of warmer this time of year that makes me appreciate Lent so deeply.
I enjoy Lent because it provides space to explore the breadth and depth of God’s love in the face of the brokenness of the world.
Lent is a journey that begins with ashes and ends with a cross. It begins with a reminder of our mortality and ends with the story of God’s own mortality. The space in between is where true life happens.
Lent doesn’t try to hide the struggles of life, but brings them to the forefront. We smear ashes on our foreheads because death is real and we will all return to the dust from which we came. We confess our sins, because sin is real and we must confess to our complicity in it before we can be forgiven of it. We hear stories of temptation and struggle, because this reality is shared across time and cultures, even in the life of God’s own Son.
More than anything, Lent is honest about what it is. I live in a world dominated by social media and public relations, always fearful of how the world will judge who I am, how I look and what I do.
Lent, however, provides space to struggle with the imperfections of this world. It is a chance to see we are all the same before God: dust.
Lent ends with Christ’s death, a powerful reminder that we are all the same in that we are all saved by Christ. While giving up chocolate or meat during Lent is a wonderful practice of self-piety, it ultimately pales in comparison to God giving up our sin on the cross - the cross whose grace and love is the same for all.