The month of March is upon us and we are already well into the Lenten Season. This year, it is my wish that all of us will “Keep a Holy Lent”. The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. As the years passed, traditions of the church were established. According to church history, the Season of Lent was established in the fourth century. The forty days of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and continues through the Easter Vigil or the Saturday before Easter.
Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized. It was a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil. Lent was also a time of repentance in which those who had wandered from the faith or had been separated from the church due to some gross sin were called upon to repent of their wandering and their sin and to return to the Christ. But since these new and returning members were received into a living community of faith, the entire community was called to help each other to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and His victory over Satan, sin, death, and the grave. Therefore, Lent became a time when we are all called upon to repent of our sins, reflect upon the grace, mercy and love of God in Christ, and to get back to the basics of our faith.
Growing up, I enjoyed watching cartoons on Saturday morning. I recall one of the recurring themes, the struggle between right and wrong. A protagonist, a cartoon character, is faced with a predicament. He has to make a decision. He has to choose but he is not sure what to do. Then, all of a sudden, there appears an angel on one shoulder. At the same time, there also appears a little devil on the other. They both try to persuade our protagonist. One says, “Do it,” and the other urges with the words, “Don't do it.” The protagonist is stuck in the middle. He is being pushed by two opposing voices, but he must make the decision. He must choose. What does he do? All too often in life, we are confronted in the same way. We are tempted to do evil. James, the half-brother of our Lord, put it this way: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
We can relate to the cartoon character. The struggle goes back and forth until the protagonist’s head begins to spin, knowing that he must make a decision. Will he do the right thing and please the angel or will he do the wrong thing and please the little devil?
Perhaps you remember Flip Wilson’s TV show where he played the character named Geraldine. Whenever Geraldine did something naughty she would shout: “The devil made me do it.” It was never Geraldine’s fault. She never took responsibility for her own actions. She was always free from guilt because, after all, the devil made her do it.
In like manner, we have all refused to do things that we knew to be right in God’s eyes. We have sinned and done evil in the sight of God by our sins of commission and our sins of omission. We have all sinned in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds. Lent is a time when we are called upon to reflect upon our need for redemption and the gracious Gospel of our Lord Christ.
This is why the Season of Lent is such a gracious gift to each of us. It forces us to look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Law and to see ourselves as God sees us: “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36), “that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane.” (I Timothy 1:9)
Yet the Gospel and the cross are placed before us. While we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and the Lenten Season calls us to embrace the love of God for us. In the bondage of our sin, He loves us and sent His Only Son to die for us in order to redeem us from the power of sin and the Law. Lent is a marvelous time to reflect on what Christ has done for us and what He has called us to do for Him. The disciplines of Lent are many; some fast, some engage in acts of repentance by giving up something they enjoy, others seek to keep a holy Lent by doing more for others. Regardless of what you have elected to do or not do in observance of Lent, I challenge you to engage in the discipline of prayer, to take a little more time each day just to pray and to spend time along with God. As you do, praise Him and give Him your Adoration as you acknowledge Him for who He is; Confess your sins and repent asking Him to strengthen you; Thank Him for His Law and His Gospel and the many blessings He bestows upon you; and lay your Supplications before Him as you pray for others as well as yourself.
The Lenten Season is a somber and reflective time of year, but it is also a wonderful time to draw near to God. It is a Season that drives us to the truth of the Gospel and the hope of our salvation Therefore, it is my prayer for you and me that we keep a holy Lent!
Website design, hosting and maintenance by InterWeb Designs. Copyright © 2017 by InterWeb Designs; All rights reserved.
This website may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, by anyone without the express written permission of InterWeb Designs.