This is the next installment of my “What does that religious celebration mean?” series. The first was Advent. We made it through Christmas. I forgot to write about Epiphany and now we’re onto Lent. So what is Lent?
Lent covers the six weeks before Easter and kicks off with Ash Wednesday. Many churches will have extra Wednesday night services so you end up going to church twice each week. The extra services are there to giive you even more time to reflect on the meaning of Lent. The whole point is to show us our need for a Savior and what’s about to happen at the end of Lent (Jesus’s death and His resurrection at Easter.) Lent reminds us WHY Jesus had to come to suffer, die and rise again. He did all that because we are sinners. The law that God sets forth in the Bible is very clear. He demands 100% aboslute perfection. If you can pull that off, you get into heaven. But as you probably guessed, that’s impossible .From the moment we are conceived, we’re sinful. If that’s all we covered in Lent services, it would be extremely depressing because we’d leave knowing that we’re heading straight to hell when we die. But the story doesn’t end there. After each reminder of our failures, we are presented with the reminder that Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin in our place. Through him, we are guaranteed spots in heaven and all that’s required is faith.
You may have heard people talk about Lent in terms of giving something up for the season. The idea has lost a lot of its good intentions. Many people now do it because they think they’re going to gain points with God if they choose to not eat Skittles or drink coffee during Lent. Nope. But giving up something for Lent can be a good thing if you use it as a constant daily reminder of the meaning behind the season for Lent.
So if you step into a Lent service, it might seem like a somber occasion. There’s black on the altar and there’s a lot of talk about all the suffering that Jesus had to endure because we are screwups. But stay for the end and you’ll hear the wonderful message of what that Jesus’s death and resurrection mean for us if we believe. We get eternal life in heaven. It’s the ultimate gift.