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  • Writer's picturefrcrosthwait

Getting Ready for Lent

Lent does not mean “more pressure.”

That’s an important item to clarify and a good place to start as we get ready for Lent.

Lent does not mean “more pressure.”

Lent does not mean “more pressure” because “try harder” is rarely good spiritual advice. Very rarely.

“Try harder” applies occasionally. But even then, trying needs to go in the direction of training, not simply willpower. Willpower is ineffective because the human will has very limited power and, most importantly, our salvation does not depend on us and our wills.

Salvation depends on God.

God saves us. And God saves us through the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

We trust Jesus and his sacrificial atonement for our sins. Trusting Jesus, we also train under Jesus and learn to imitate his patterns, practices, and principles for living the life he won for us on the cross, shares with us by his resurrection, and pours into us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

This means that Lent is a season in which we are training for our participation in the salvation won and wrought by Jesus. The season culminates in the saving event of the Easter Triduum, the great three days of the Chrisitan Passover: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day (a day which begins Saturday evening with the Great Vigil of Easter and continues into the Sunday of the Resurrection).

So—and this is very important—Lent does not mean anything by itself, because Lent isn't alone. The season of Lent exists in relationship with the season of Easter. Lent is a 40-day preparation for a 50-day celebration.

We are given 40 days in which we admit to and turn from our sinful rejection of God. Following this penitential emphasis, we are given 50 days to revel in God’s saving victory for us in Jesus’ passion, death, burial, and resurrection.

I suggest approaching the seasons of Lent and Easter together as a 90-day window for training. Ninety days of effort without pressure. We are training for dying to ourselves, the world, the flesh, and the devil. And we are training for living an eternal kind of life through trusting Jesus and being raised together with Jesus.

This training window of two seasons together begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Pentecost Sunday. In other words, it begins with penitence, travels through Jesus' victory, and ends with empowerment for his mission.

This mission is nothing less than our participation in the death-defeating reign of the risen Jesus who said:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NET).


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