This week we talked about lint and Lent.
Lint is that nagging ever-present distraction, which is a detraction to putting our best foot forward. And, so is sin. We are human. We aren’t perfect. And no matter how we may try to rid ourselves of what separates us from being the best person we can be, we seem to pick up more.
Lent is the 40-day period (not counting intervening Sundays) leading up to Easter which begins Ash Wednesday. It has long been a time of penitence where we recognize our failures and appreciate Christ’s suffering to right us with God. It is modeled after Jesus’s 40-day period of fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry. A 40-day period of fasting is used many times in the Bible, going back to ancient stories of the Old Testament. Jesus’s suffering in the wilderness was an early illustration of his humanness and thus the value of his suffering on the cross and resurrection from the death that followed.
Lent has expanded (or contracted, depending on your perspective and practice) to include giving something up other than meals or meat during the period to include giving up something that you like or enjoy. This personal sacrifice is an opportunity to be reminded when you miss whatever it is that you gave up of Christ’s sacrifice.
We added a twist. What if we were to give something up permanently? What if we were to try to make ourselves better by using Lent as an opportunity to rid ourselves of some pesky lint? Whether it’s something physical such as fried foods or smoking (another stab at that failed New Year’s Resolution) or something even more significant, like engaging in gossip, lying, harboring a grudge, hating someone or some group, living with an unforgiven wrong, or exhibiting a bad attitude? These are hard. But, they are all possible with God’s help.
Nevertheless, and despite our best intentions, we will likely fail. Unlike Jesus who did not give into the temptations which he faced in the wilderness, we will fail. And when we do, we’re reminded of God’s grace and the power of forgiveness. That is the point of Lent – to prepare us for Easter. You cannot appreciate the power of Easter until you recognize that you need it.