For some strange reason, Lent is my favorite season in the Christian liturgical calendar. Some words that are associated with the Lenten season are: deprivation, prayer, reflection, fasting, confession, repentance, and simplicity. It’s a call to being austere and to being a minimalist in our lifestyle, our possessions, and our surroundings. The purple color points to earthiness, to the bare necessities, and to the basics of dependence on God.
Moreover, Lent is meant to be a time for self-examination and recognition of our sinfulness. Sara Miles in an article, Ashes in the Streets: Witness to the Dark, writes,
Like most converts, I had an annoying tendency to talk about Jesus just a little bit more than anybody wanted to hear. But sin—that was different. I preached about sin because I believed in mercy. And I believed in mercy because I knew how quickly even my stupidest, most ordinary sins could drag me into a spiral of misery. I’d be mean, or lazy, or selfish and feel bad about it, and so I’d become meaner, lazier, less interested in thinking about anybody else. That inward-driving force, which takes the mind prisoner and locks the soul in solitary confinement, nourishes even the smallest sin and makes living with it essentially hell.
[The Christian Century, February 5, 2014, p. 20]
What sins are we talking about? Well, over the centuries we identify the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Within each of those categories, I can come up with specific examples and name something concrete. I’m sure each of you could also identify something specific. As Sarah Miles declared, if we dwell on those thoughts, these evil entities can run wild and take over.
As we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 5, with a combined worship service in our sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. with other congregations, I invite you to embrace the depths of Lent and its rich meanings.
– Pastor Bob