One week from today, we will be in Lent. Again.
If you’re anything like me, it feels like we never left the last Lent. I’m wondering how much Lenty-er our lives can get. How much more can we give up? Can we really find the energy to do this again – to prepare again for an Easter that feels like it’ll never come?
I understand this hesitation – I really do. We are all feeling so tired and deprived already. But I think this actually means that we need more Lent, not less.
Because Lent, at its heart, is a season about getting close to God. We tend to think of it as a time of great solemnity – of abstinence and penitence. And it can be all of those things, of course. But all of those things are a part of this season because, ultimately, they bring us closer to God. If material things – food, alcohol, screens – are getting between you and God, then Lent invites you to give them up. If your sin – those things done and left undone – is what’s blocking you from God’s love, then Lent invites you to confess it and make amends. Lent is never about self-denial for its own sake, only for the sake of increasing our openness to the Grace that God is pouring out on us every day.
So this year, we need more Lent, not less. Maybe giving something up doesn’t feel helpful. Maybe your life feels austere enough, thank you very much. But there are ways for you to draw closer to God, or, more accurately, to open the door to find God drawing close to you. Lent is a season of rich and holy reward, built upon the hope that at the end of this season we will find nothing less than all of God’s love, all of God’s life, given for us.
One week from today, we will be in Lent. Again. Hallelujah.