Perhaps it seems a little odd that our first table topic in the season of Lent is Celebration. Long ago church leaders decided that the celebration of Easter should be preceded by a season of preparation; what we today call Lent. Originally, this season focused on spiritually preparing converts to the faith for baptism, their entry into the Church.Somewhat later, it was also a season when people were encouraged, with great seriousness, to consider and repent of their sinfulness which resulted in a sober and somewhat somber mood.
The significance of Lent having 40 days recalls Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness when he fasted and prepared for the beginning of his ministry.Christians were encouraged to fast during Lent as a means of spiritual discipline.Later, the practice began of people abstaining from luxuries and delicacies.
Lent lasts for 40 days. But if you do your math from Ash Wednesday to Easter, you will discover there are more than 40 days. That is because Sundays are not included in the count.Sunday - the day of Jesus’ resurrection - must always be a day of celebration.
Sometimes we find it hard to celebrate. There is a lot of awful stuff going on in the world today and there may be some awful stuff going on in your life as well. And yet, we are an Easter people; meaning that our lives (each and every day) are not defined or determined by our personal struggles, but by Jesus’ ability to conquer death, sin and destruction.
Jazz great, Duke Ellington, wrote a song called "Come Sunday."Its lyrics are: Come Sunday, oh, come Sunday, that’s the day. Lord, dear Lord above, God Almighty, God of love, please look down and see my people through. I believe that God put sun and moon up in the sky. I don’t mind the gray skies, cause they’re just clouds passing by. I believe God is now, was then, and always will be. With God’s blessing we can make it through eternity.
Even in the season of Lent, like all the varied seasons of our lives, we are never separated from God’s grace.We celebrate not because life is always easy and fun.We celebrate because our lives are in the hands of a Savior who defeats the powers of sin and death.
Questions to reflect upon this week: ·What blessing/s has God given you that help you make it through difficult times? ·What new habit or practice might you develop on the Sundays of Lent this year as a way of celebrating God’s goodness and grace?
Prayer: God, sometimes when life is hard, I grow discouraged and fearful.I become negative and start to brood over my troubles.Lord, teach me, instead, to count my blessings.Teach me to take delight in simple things like a sunny day, a warm cup of coffee, or lunch with a friend.Teach me to celebrate and to rejoice in your grace.In Jesus’ name.Amen.