We just finished the season of Advent, celebrating the birth of Jesus. And even before we can take down all the festive lights and decorations, we find ourselves about ready to enter another important season. We are about to begin the season of Lent. This is the season of the church year that leads us into Easter. Advent reminds us of the birth of Jesus. Lent brings us to his death and resurrection. Advent is typically a gradual emotional climb that takes us from the news of Mary’s pregnancy to the birth of Jesus in that small town of Bethlehem. We sing songs like “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. For most of the Lenten season, the normal hymns are “Old Rugged Cross” and “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord”. Advent is a steady ascent that leads to the glorious nativity. Lent is more of a roller coaster ride of emotions.
During the season of Advent, we are preparing to receive. We look forward to the gift of the baby Jesus…and gifts under a decorated tree. During Lent we talk about what we are going to “give up”. Advent means the candles keep getting lit, until finally on Christmas Eve the sanctuary is filled with candlelight. Typically in Lent, we extinguish candles until the room is dark.
The season of Advent begins with a surprise…a virgin is pregnant! The astonishing bombshell in the season of Lent comes at the end of the story…a dead Jesus comes back to life!
I truly love the season of Lent. I love the ups and downs, the uncertainty, the twists, the highs and lows that make up the story of Jesus’ life, and death, and life. You need to emotionally buckle up when we come to the last week of Lent. The ride gets a little wild: the triumphal entry, the clearing of the Temple; children laughing and throwing palm branches; a mother crying as her son is taken away; a last meal with Jesus and his friends; and a betrayal at that same meal.
Death on a cross. Life from the tomb.
Are you ready? Are you prepared for this amazing season of Lent? The season filled with ashes and sackcloth and repentance and tragedy. The season filled with shouts of Hallelujah and meals of remembrance and washing of feet and rejoicing. A season of death. A season of life. Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Welcome, my brothers and sisters…to the season of Lent.