Lent is one of the two ‘preparation’ seasons of the church year. It is the 40 days leading up to Easter (not counting Sundays). While Advent is about looking forward to welcoming the Christ child, the Light of the worlds arrival. Lent is preparing our hearts for a quite different season, that of Jesus betrayal, death on the cross, an instrument of torture, power and humiliation, and of course His resurrection. The advent season invites us into transformation through anticipation and celebration, lent invites us into transformation through reflection, lament and sacrifice.
If your parish follows the lectionary and in particular the gospel readings, you’ll be journeying through lent by exploring Jesus life. In particular various stories through which Jesus turned upside-down common understandings of the way we navigate through life. Jesus is tempted, but overcomes, Jesus chats with Nicodemus, with a Samaritan Woman (on her own!), heals a blind man with mud, and of course brings Lazarus back to life. Each story invites us too go deeper, to be confronted by our own viewpoints and consider whether they really are relationship building or if they cause division and harm.
At our combined youth service on the 10th March, we will be exploring Jesus time with the Samaritan woman. Jesus broke cultural barriers of speaking to a woman, on her own. A Samaritan woman who felt the wounds of being outcast through her race, and actions, her own and others perhaps. She also was clever and had clearly thought deeply about God, worship and what it all meant. That one conversation transformed a village, the village too, hungry to understand more, left rejoicing in a new understanding of God.
Lent is not a gentle season, it’s hard. For us in the southern hemisphere is is particularly challenging, for young people and their families, in many ways for us all. In particular young people are settling back into youth and new years at school, uni and work. They are getting to grips with different expectations, which in some ways make great parallels to the invitation of Lent. During this season we are invited to deep transformation, just as the higher expectations each school year invites us to challenge ourselves to learn and grow.
Over Easter weekend, at Efest we are being invited to notice the myriad of ways Jesus disrupted the way things had become… from Jesus birth to Jesus resurrection and sending the disciples onwards to continue to bring this new understanding of God to the world. Disruption and Transformation are unsettling words, and yet they can bring greater joy, new life, peace, and positive, encouraging, courageous community when viewed through the lens of Jesus.
Living Jesus, May our lent seasons be filled with new discoveries, that penetrate deep into our souls, gently sifting and dispensing with that which drags us down, and replaced with that which holds us close to Your loving, transforming, redeeming love. Amen