The season of Lent begins in February. Ash Wednesday is February 18. This important service launches us into the heart of Lent around the themes of repentance and humility. Of course we don’t need Lent to repent our sins. Christians are always called to repentance, which means to turn direction, from the wrong path that leads away from God to the right path that leads to God. It is hard to face up to our true self, which is why so few take the Lenten journey. It is sort of like looking in the mirror as we age. The reflection is not how we imagine ourselves. Yet, if we do have the courage of reflection and repentance,then we can hear the Good News of Easter with fresh ears. There is no reason for despair. Our reflection, as offensive as it might seem to us, is seen only with hope and promise by God. God is not done with us yet!
Lent is a time of humility which is at the core of repentance. Modern preaching and modern Christian music presents God as almost a sidekick for our many adventures in life. Jesus is like us only better. Humility calls us to reconsider our understanding of God and the reflection of God in Jesus. God is not our buddy but our creator and our only hope for redemption. God is so much more than us, it can hurt our heads to even imagine God. If we humble ourselves before God, it becomes natural for us to be humble with our neighbor, too. Humility is called for in our relationship with our neighbor. How many times have we prayed the prayer of the religious man in Luke 18:11, “Thank God I am not like that sinful man!” Our arrogance keeps us from loving our neighbor and being loved by our neighbor. If we don’t do the hard work of repentance for ourselves, we will never see our common human reflection in our neighbor.
Repentance and humility; the themes of Lent. No wonder it is a spare season in the church year. One that is central to who we are and who we are called to be. As this season of Lent begins, I give thanks that I travel this path with all of you. May we all draw closer to God in Lent; hearing with even greater joy Easter morning, Christ saves us!