“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.” Psalm 51:1
Dear Redeemer Family:
Lent. Yes, I wrote Lent. Some of you may be thinking, “Isn’t it a bit early to be thinking about Lent.” Well, yes, it is. But we have an early Lent this year, and a bit of an early Easter. Still, some may be thinking, “Didn’t we just take down the Christmas decorations? Didn’t the stores do so as well, and put-up St. Valentine’s Day decorations and candy?” Yes, you did, and the stores did. But guess what? This year Ash Wednesday falls on St. Valentine’s Day!!!! How is that for a strange mix of themes? Chocolate and ashes, love and contrition mixed together. It may sound like a strange mix, and it is. But that is what we have this year.
Although chocolate and ashes sound kind of bizarre, love and contrition for Lent do not. It is for our love of God that we are contrite. In Lent, we examine ourselves, our lives, in light of what God would have us to do and be. And then, we try to do better. We spend 40 days in the wilderness with Christ, contemplating and repenting. We strive to better conform our lives more closely with Christ’s example. Some people may not like the Season of Lent. But it serves a very good purpose. We are trying to better ourselves.
It is not a time of trying to impress God. He has already forgiven us for our shortcomings, our sins. No, it is a time to try to improve ourselves in God’s sight. Maybe so that God will not have to forgive so much. For some, with Lent beginning fairly early this year, it may be time to pick up those New Year’s Resolutions which we’ve already broken and try to run with them again. Like New Year’s Resolutions, Lent is really a matter of self-improvement, and self-discipline. And, for those who believe that think that they don’t need any improving (there are always some), you can try to reach out and help others in their life’s journey.
One of my favorite Christmas carols, which we rarely sing, is “In the Bleak Midwinter.” In this bleak midwinter, let us look to the light of Christ, and try to be improved people when we arrive at the brilliant light of Christ at Easter. Let us be better children of God, and co-heirs with Christ. Let’s be hopeful for better times. Things are different this year. Remember, this year, Lent can also begin with chocolate!