If Lent isn’t in the Bible, why does it matter (especially today)?
The Christian community calls the 40 days (sans Sundays) before Easter lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras. The previous year’s palms used to praise and honor King Jesus on Palm Sunday are burned and mixed with oil, burned to ashes, and turned to dust. We are reminded how easy it is to fall back into old habits, sinful behavior, senseless suffering, and tasteless temptations. And while I know not everybody celebrates Mardi Gras, I think we all (myself included) can admit that we give into our temptations. We indulge ourselves, rationalize our sins, and give up self-control. And if that’s us, then we need Lent more than we know.
Between Ash Wednesday and Easter, we track the story of Jesus through the same temptations we experience. Instead of giving in, He overcomes. We follow Jesus through the same desert-like experiences of being lost and wandering aimlessly. Instead of getting lost, Jesus always finds His way back to God.
We rebuild trust with Jesus. So, we recommit to waving the Palms again and saying to Jesus: “We want to return to You, love You, and follow You.” With the disciple Peter, we say, “Jesus, we will never betray you,” only to find out that we, like Peter, cannot help but betray the one we love.
And then, on Maundy Thursday, Jesus hugs us, feeds us, encourages us, and explicitly tells us, “Love one another”.
He’s then betrayed by his friend and, on Good Friday, is beaten, made fun of, wrongfully accused, and dies by crucifixion. Each of us can relate. The ones who deserve a beating are freed. The bullies are exonerated. The guilty are acquitted. And the ones who deserve to die become the murderers and live on.
We leave Lent reminded that the world isn’t fair. That justice is messy. And perhaps this is why we can’t have nice things in this life.
But here’s the truth - lent ends at the cross with the words, It is finished. And on the green hill far away where Jesus is taken down off the cross to be buried, Lent ends.
It’s easy to think that Lent is only filled with darkness. But, a source from Wikipedia notes that the word Lent comes from the Old English word, lencten, which means spring season. So, perhaps Lent is not meant to be a destination but only a pass-through to what is beyond.
There is much darkness surrounding life today. Economic uncertainty. Political chaos. Tech take-overs. Anger and rage. And then there’s still our temptations, indulgences, and loss of self-control. It’s like our lives are stuck in never-ending Lent.
And that’s why we need to pass through Lent… together.
We can find our way back home to Jesus - a home where we can be together and remind each other that we are not alone in our Lent.
Jesus is with us. God’s promises are still valid. And our Lent will end, and Easter will be here soon.
And Easter will not disappoint.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.