Lent and Easter: "A time to start over."
It’s almost Easter – is it just me or has this lent just flown past us? As I’m writing this, I realise that I end up feeling this way every single year! These precious 40 days given so generously every year is never enough to live out the faith as well as I want to. But isn’t this our calling for every day life? This leads me to another question – one that I probably should have asked myself waaaaay earlier but oh well, better late than never right?
So, what does this period of Lent mean to me? My good friend Wikipedia describes it as “ a solemn religious observance” and says that, “the purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego”. OKAY now, is it just me or is the last part of that sentence causing a lot of panic in you too? If not, well done you! My lent this year has been sooo far from ideal and every Sunday has seen me sitting in front of the altar and promising to start all over again. I have felt so unworthy to even step inside a church let alone receive Christ that the only thing I actually have done, is run to confession whenever possible. And now it hits me, this is what Lent is. A time given to start over. Of course, every day of our lives is an invitation to follow Christ and there is no denying of that grace. But there is something so singularly special about this Lenten opportunity and its timing…our Lord is just a week away from going through the absolute horror of horrors.
The stations of the cross and every form of penance we do during this period is an attempt to accompany Him as He walked through His final hours of torture, loneliness and living out His purpose. Nothing about that day was good, it was dark and hopeless. Our Saviour fell; not once but thrice. And so, we too in all our human frailty and weakness fall every day with Him. And every time, He got up, kept carrying His cross and went ahead to die for each and every one of us – to do His Father’s will. Dying for the world is thankfully (and hopefully) not the Father’s will for any of us. I mean, can we even imagine the burden of such a purpose?
But here’s the deal – after all that pain and agony comes GLORY! Glory is a word we hear so, so much in and outside Church. I sometimes wonder if we use this word so excessively that we actually become oblivious to what it actually means and signifies. While I do pray to “do XYZ for His glory” and marvel at “God’s glory” when something great happens, I really don’t think I fully comprehend the Lord’s glory. I don’t even think it is humanly possibly to fathom the divine and powerful nature of God’s glory. I always feel that my first true experience of this glory and majesty would be in Heaven – I mean what with all the angels with harps, the white puffy clouds and all the halos! But for now, I think the closest we come to witnessing God’s absolute glory and power is in this gift of Easter and how wonderful that we receive this grace year after year! A reminder that Jesus has risen. Can we just pause for a second to think about that? Just like “glory”, here’s another concept that is so often mentioned and heard that its significance is so dangerously lost on us. Jesus was abused and murdered. Because God loved us so much and He didn’t stop there. He resurrected His son so He could come again for you and for me. So, He could return to this world to fall, walk and rise with us.
As a child, I remember being super excited as Palm Sunday approached. It was a reminder that Lent was almost over and that I could finally indulge in sweets, that delicious chicken curry mum makes or whatever I had given up. Easter was certainly a joyous day but not for the right reasons! (Yes, I am eternally grateful for the grace of growing up). As we prepare ourselves to walk into these final days of Christ’s life, let us be ever mindful of the joy that awaits us. Let the days gone by be behind us. For our Lord doesn’t look at what we did right or what we failed at, the only thing that matters to Him is that we show up with a heart that is willing to start over and we have the gift to do this every single day, every year or years after life has torn us apart. But what remains unchanged is that our loving Jesus triumphed over death, for you and for me. He is right by our side, every moment of every day, ready to fall and rise with us and do it all over again. We have never been alone on this journey and we will never be! Let us arise with a smile and walk into Holy Week and life beyond with strength, hope, love and light.
By: Roubitha David