Lent literally means to lengthen.
Growing up, I would practice giving something up during Lent. One year it was soda. The next year it was watching TV. I tried to give up homework - but that didn’t happen. Then, when I was in college, I thought that I would get more attuned to the passion story of Jesus’ death and resurrection by taking on a new habit. One season it was reading my Bible everyday. Another season, I chose to fast and pray every Friday. Needless to say, Lent has been a life-shaping experience for me. In fact, Lent is my absolute favorite time of the year within the Christian rhythm of life (or the liturgical church year, as some of us might have grown up learning).
But, to be honest, Lent was never truly about giving up an indulgence, taking up a holy habit, or just focusing on how doggone sinful I am as a human being. And even though a 2012 Huffington Post article notes that Lent could be about ensuring longer days and easier lives… I’m pretty sure it’s more than that.
Lent is not about lengthening our behaviors (the things we do and don’t do). If it were about lengthening our behavior, we wouldn’t need to repent and confess how, “we have sinned against You (God) in thought, word, and deed by what we have done and by what we have left undone…”.
Lent is about lengthening Jesus’ behavior for me and my neighbor.
Lent is about Jesus’ ultimate behavior of love that is for me and all people.
And when Lent becomes about that kind of “lengthening”, it changes my life.
For example, Jesus lengthens His love for us when we worship and share communion.
N.T. Wright, the Archbishop of Canterbury writes:
We come into the presence of Almighty God, and to feast at his table, not because we are good people, but because we are forgiven sinners. We come as we come to a doctor, not because we are well but because we are sick. We come, not because we’ve got it all together, but because God’s got it all together and has invited us to join him. We come, not because our hands are full of our own self-importance or self-righteousness, but because they are empty and waiting to receive his love, his body and blood, his own very self.
This is as basic to Christianity as the ball is to football. And, just as you have a rotten game of football if people ignore the ball and simply tackle the opposition, or even the crowd, you have a pretty poor time in church if you forget for a moment that we are here because we don’t deserve to be. And when that truth gets hold of you, and sink s down inside you like a hot drink on a cold day, then the effect on the whole life of the Christian community is quite marvelous. We are all here by grace alone: so we can relax. You don’t have to pretend in the presence of God; no more should you need to pretend in the presence of your fellow Christians. The ground is level at the foot of the cross; the only people who are excluded from the party are those who exclude themselves, by supposing they don’t need the cross, don’t need God’s forgiveness, don’t need the free love of Jesus, in the first place (N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church, p. 79-80).
May Jesus’ forgiveness that covers the full length of our sin.
May Jesus' Spirit constantly remind you whose and who you are.
May Jesus’ words of healing cure your body, minds, and spirits.
May Jesus’ invitation into what He is doing in the lives of other people give you deep meaning and purpose.
May Jesus’ nail-pierced hands fill your empty hands with His love, His body, His blood, and everything He has to offer you... so you can share it with others.
And may Jesus lengthen His love that flows through your thoughts, words, and actions into the lives of your neighbors, family, and friends this Lent.
Let’s begin our journey with Jesus that is full of questions, reflection, repentance, and the joy of grace at one of our Four Identical Ash Wednesday Worship Services on February 17. You can choose to reserve a seat at our Tacoma Campus at 12:00pm, 5:00pm, & 7:00pm or gather at our Online Campus at 7:00pm.
The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.