Lent is a journey of death. It is a task of sorrow. It is an errand of woe. But these are not all that is Lent. Lent is also a season of reflection. A time of wonder. A chance to explore.
Like all things in the Christian Faith, Lent primarily focuses on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent also lifts a mirror to show us the true nature of our faith and how we live it.
Lent is the tradition in the church where for the 40 days leading up to Easter, we, as a community try to comprehend, appreciate, and retell the suffering of Jesus of Nazareth as he journeyed to the Cross in our place. Salvation is coming, but for us in the dark of night, we can falter and lose faith. We are only human after all.
It was for this very purpose that the Light came into our world of darkness. For we are wicked and tortured people. Slow to faith and quick to animosity. When have you been at your worst? Yesterday, last week, a year ago? Will you be there again tomorrow? When the trauma strikes you, how will it feel in your soul? Will we be able to sing the fabled line, “It is well with my soul”? Horatio Spafford penned them in 1873 after hearing of the death of all his children when their ocean liner sank into the Atlantic. His heart overwhelmed by the billows, he faithfully wrote: “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say...”
As Jesus journeyed to the cross in Jerusalem he surely wondered about the faith of his disciples. Those in whom he put his trust and faith were sure to desert him and flee to save their own lives. Shouts of joy and celebration by the crowds morphed into a raging “Crucify him. CRUCIFY HIM!!” How alone and abandoned he must have felt.
Does our faith in Jesus really encompass the gravity of what he did for us? Not only was he alone and losing his own life, he also bore the weight of the sins of those who abandoned him. He bore the pain of praying for the Romans, who were enemies of the Jews. He had the determination to forgive Pilate for killing him. He had grace in his painful dying hours to offer blessings to the criminals who shared his fate.
What will we do as we journey to Easter? When we sing of his resurrection, and the joy of our own salvation, we must always remember that the grace we receive, while free, is not “cheap.” It is more costly than we can ever repay, more weighty than we can ever know, and more precious than we ever deserve.