The story takes us where we need to go. That is one of the wonders of the Christian year. From Advent’s preparations to Christmas joy, through Easter, Pentecost and beyond, the story unfolds, with God’s truths revealed and divine mysteries encountered. If we allow it, the story will embrace our days, invigorate our spirits and challenge our minds and actions … even as we move through the common stuff of life.
So, now we enter Lent. During the weeks ahead, we will walk with Jesus the road toward Good Friday and Easter. We will examine ourselves in the light of his truth, seek to learn from him what it means to live a life of wholeness and grace, and all along the way experience the joy of a journey shared. Lent, which literally means “Spring,” can be for us a season of growth, if we wish to grow.
As we move along, consider the landscape of your own life. What are the sights and sounds that bless your days? Can the journey make you more grateful … and gracious? What do you hope to find before the journey is over? What questions need to be answered? What answers need to be questioned?
The story will take us where we need to go, but, of course, we know where the story is heading. We’ve heard it all before. We know that Good Friday’s cross awaits us and that Easter lies beyond that. That makes Lent, well, a strange season. It is a time of penitence and honest self-examination, a time to wrestle with the “folly” and “offense” of the cross. But at the same time the truth of Easter shines through. After all, we know where the story is heading. Hope is central to who we are as Christians. The good news that Christ has triumphed over sin and death and that in him all things are made new is what we’re all about.
We Christians are Easter people.
So, we don’t walk through Lent in abject sorrow, mourning our sorry lives and fearful of the future. Instead, we move through this holy season in the assurance that the Lord who walks with us toward the cross does indeed live and dwell in our midst even now. We know the story and how it ends, and how it ends is that it doesn’t. The story of Christ is forever new and real, and the gracious mission of Christ goes on.
And so the Christian year acknowledges both realities—the Lenten journey and the needs of our souls, along with Easter triumph of God’s grace and love. Sundays stand within Lent’s journey but also apart from it. Do the math. Sundays aren’t counted in the 40 days. So, every Sunday we acknowledge Lent’s journey, but we also remind ourselves of the joy that awaits us at journey’s end.