As a child, I hated Lent. While we didn’t have to give anything up for Lent, we often did. It seemed like Easter would never come and I didn’t understand the meaning of the season at all. As an adult, I do understand…to the extent any of us really can.
Ash Wednesday: This is the beginning of Lent. In some denominations, the congregation is marked on the forehead with ashes. We are reminded that from dust were we made and to dust we shall return. We are reminded that we are sinners. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean we become perfect. In fact, for many of us, it points out where we aren’t perfect.
Winter: It is somewhat appropriate that Lent at least starts in winter. It is a bleak season, and dark. Lent itself is the same, but it’s for a purpose.
Sinful Nature: If we look in our hearts…truly look…we may see that we tend to be bleak and dark. It is part of our sinful nature. We Christians need to do that on a regular basis. I know I do. There are things that make me angry…but shouldn’t. There are words that I say (or type) that I shouldn’t. Lent is the time that forces us (if we let it) to look at these things…and maybe make a change.
Preparation: This isn’t all about how bad we are. It’s about preparation as well. The end of Lent is Easter. If we are going to celebrate our resurrected Lord, we need to prepare our hearts for Him. We need to recognize that we aren’t pure. His death on the cross was because of just that. We need to recognize that without His resurrection we would have no hope of life after death. That’s a lot of work to do.
Most Sacred: Easter is the most sacred, the most holy of Christian holidays. It is the reaffirmation of our faith. It brings us joy, peace and love. It’s like the first sunny day after a long winter of ice and snow.
It doesn’t matter which denomination we belong to. It doesn’t matter whether we receive ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. It doesn’t matter whether or not we give something up for Lent. It doesn’t even matter whether or not we like Lent. What matters is that we find a way to prepare us for Easter. That’s why we have Lent.