Just like your life is organized around different rhythms—the seasons, the rotation of months, the school year—so, too, the life of the church follows a cycle of rituals and celebrations.
Following the excesses of Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday comes with its invitation to remember our mortality. While our contemporary culture encourages us to live in denial of death, for centuries, Christians have made this remembrance a constant part of their spiritual practice. Both a prompt: to consider the ways we must continue to die to self. And a blessing: to remember that each moment is a gift.
The 40 days of Lent reflect the 40 days of testing Jesus experienced in the wilderness. Times of testing force us to reckon with our appetites and desires. Times of testing reveal our inner essence: Who are you? What do you really want?
It seems that the things we find tempting must be instructive. For it uncovers something about our desires, our lack, our beliefs about ourselves, about understanding of our world and our thoughts about God. And so you are invited to a time of reflection as you begin the journey of Lent.
Notice that all three temptations that Jesus face in the wilderness offer him an alternative mission: a way other than the cross; a way other than through death. And isn’t that the temptation we all face? The option to choose ease over challenge; to have certainty over the unknown.
Lent is an opportunity for surrender; it is a time of releasing. We are invited to the slow transformation of discipleship; to lean into the way of Jesus that reveals who we are and what we really want.
And so, it makes sense that in the season of Lent we focus on confession and redirection. This wilderness time is not a form of punishment, but rather a time of intentional practice that is meant to make more space for God. So, in this time: What could you simplify in your life that would free you up for the things that really matter? How can you connect with God more deeply in this time?
The invitation from God, the journey of discipleship is never coerced. The landscape of our life will be rife with opportunities to choose our own way. And so, the questions of Lent remain: Who are you? What do you really want?
Blessings on this journey.
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