I plan to offer a Lenten reflection each week up to Easter. It is my hope that they may be useful for others that journey with Jesus on the pilgrimage of life. I also hope that they may be of some use to those that are called to preach the gospel stories to their communities of faith. I thank the community of Canadian Baptist Ministries for giving me the opportunity to speak each Tuesday to our community of service and witness.
Welcome to Lent in 2017. Lent is a period of 40 days leading up to Easter. The beginning point is Ash Wednesday – 1 March 2017. Lent ends on Holy Saturday when Jesus lies in the tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem. If you count the days you will arrive at 46. However, Sundays are traditionally not included in Lent. The number 40 corresponds with the time Jesus spent in the wilderness before he entered Galilee with the proclamation that God was coming to establish his reign.
Lent has often been characterized as a time of deprivation and sacrifice. In places like Brazil, Bolivia, and in New Orleans along with a number of other cultural locations, the week before Lent is carnival, a time of excessive celebration. Carnival is a kind of preparation for more modest living during Lent. I think these popular interpretations of Lent miss the mark. Lent is not about giving up chocolate, your favorite TV show, red wine, or cigars. It is about walking with Jesus through the gospels and allowing his teaching and example to enter deeply into our lives. Lent is a good time to allow God’s Spirit to talk to us about making some adjustments in the direction of our lives. It is also a time in which the Spirit may lead us to think about lightening the load that we may be carrying. Each of us can be like the tourist that goes on a trip with too much luggage. We can be guilty of trying to move forward in life with too many burdens and things that could be left aside to make the journey easier and more meaningful. Continue reading