You might be surprised to know that the season I’m already looking forward to this year is Lent. I know, I know. Isn’t Lent the season for Mardi Gras? Doesn’t it include a day (Ash Wednesday) when people walk around with smudge marks on their foreheads?
But the season of Lent—which starts this year on March 5 and runs for six weeks up to Easter—has begun to bloom within my soul after years of being just a bud, tightly wrapped and green. In fact, in recent years Lent is enjoying a bit of rebirth as younger families are moving back to more traditional churches and as Protestant churches are including more historical church practices into their annual calendar.
In our non-denominational church last year, we had an Ash Wednesday service to mark the first day of Lent. I attended, and experienced a more somber service than normal in a very dimly-lit room. We were encouraged to look inward to acknowledge our need for a Savior, remembering that we came from dust and to dust we will return, and pause before God in humility and repentance.
Lent excites me because of its intense Christ-focus—and even more, its cross-focus. In my love for tradition and for history, I’ve rediscovered a richness in the traditional church calendar. After the meditations of Christmas and pondering the mystery of “God with us,” I can keep my mind and body tethered to walking with God as I ruminate on the pinnacle event that changed everything: the Cross.
At this time last year I had my head buried in the Old Testament while developing a new resource for families to use during Lent. The Messiah Mystery combs through some of our well-loved Old Testament Bible stories for clues that point to the Messiah. After decades of studying the Bible, I still found my eyes wide with awe at the genius of God as He pointed the world to history’s culmination in the person of Jesus Christ the King.
And isn’t that what I want this year to be about? If Christ is to be King of my year, captivating and determining my thoughts from one season to the next, what would that look like?
It’s certainly more exciting than any Mardi Gras parade.
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