Here we are into the third week of Lent! I bet it slipped up on you, didn’t it? After all, how many of us, or how many people you know, take seriously this season of the year?
We are much more familiar with “Spring,” than “Lent.” (Though “Lent” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “lencten,” which means “spring.”) Lent is a 40-day observance that occurs each spring. (The 40-day period excludes Sundays, which for the Christian are to be weekly celebrations of the Resurrection.)
It’s 6-weeks of spiritual prep—a journey, as it were, with Christ to the cross and ultimately the open tomb.
Shane Claiborne reminds us that in a world where many of us are so “full of ourselves,” we need to be emptied of ourselves – so that our lives can be, well, fuller, more meaningful, matter. All the major world religions have an element of self-denial at their core. Jews have Yom Kippur. Muslims have Ramadan. Christians have Lent. In a world filled with clutter, noise, and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to be still, to stop and pray.
As a pastor, I have the unique opportunity to invite others along this path. This year at Mt. Carmel we are focusing on a series of questions. Not questions that you and I might have—and we have plenty of them, don’t we? Life is full of them—silly and serious ones, perennial and political ones. But we’ll leave those for another day.
There is a very special kind of question we find in the teaching of Jesus. Personal questions. Questions aimed not at defining something “out there,” but at determining something crucial “in here”—inside us. Questions not asked by us, but directly TO US.
Questions like: What do you really want? Who condemns you? Why are you afraid? How much do you have? Who do you say that Jesus is?
These questions are so personal that we tend to fumble before answering. We fumble because we instinctively know that the question is a very important one. It is so personal that it can transform the way we live.
Question: What if, between now and Easter, you and I were to stop long and often enough to listen to what God asks of us? Would we, could we? Wonder what He might say?