“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, very patient, and full of faithful love.
God won’t always play the judge; he won’t be angry forever.
He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin or repay us according to our wrongdoing because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
As far as east is from west— that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.”
Psalm 103: 8-10
With Ash Wednesday in our rearview mirror, we start our journey through the 2021 season of Lent. Lent comes to us from an Old Germanic word meaning “longing”. Just as people long for Spring after a hard dreary winter, so the spirit longs for renewal and life in communion with God. We come hungry to this season of Lent; hungry for words of life, hungry for rituals, and hungry for practices to help us on our way.
Lent is the gateway we must walk through if we want to understand the events of Holy Week and Easter. There is no Easter without the cross, and there is no cross without us preparing to carry it.
Just as we needed room in our hearts during the season of Advent in preparation for Jesus’ coming, so also do our hearts need space to prepare for the events of Holy Week. That infant from the Christmas story has grown up and started his ministry. We follow Jesus’ journey through the Lenten scriptures. He and his disciples are wandering the countryside, teaching, and healing. And we all know what is going to happen!
Soon, Jesus will be walking toward Jerusalem and the violent ending that we know is coming.
Our hearts need preparation. Since the early days of Christianity, the period preceding Easter has been observed as a season of fasting and repentance. Those forty days—excluding Sundays—are an imitation of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.
Many of us continue to observe a rule of no meat on Fridays. We fast from negative habits—apathy, cynicism, or judgment of self or others. We fast from chocolate or desserts or carbonated beverages or social media. Or we take on something new during Lent—a new spiritual discipline of prayer or silence, the study of a Lenten devotional guide, or the intention of keeping a Lenten art journal.
Jesus offers us companionship on our personal journey through Lent. One of the main things we can do on this journey is to go into the basement and attic and storage closets of our hearts, collect all the junk and rummage that has accumulated over time and that hinders us from fully experiencing the life promised by Christ. We need to take all that junk and rummage and hold a spiritual garage sale.
Don’t expect multitudes to throng to your place; they have junk and rummage of their own already. But do expect one buyer: God. God has promised us in Psalm 103, “As far as east is from west— that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.”
As you are getting ready for your forty-day journey through Lent, I wish you happy garage sale-ing in the Lord.
Walking alongside you,