The season of Lent is upon us, the season of forty days leading up to Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. The forty days refers to the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism and the forty years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert.
Lent brings with it a whole host of traditions and practices. For Christians of all kinds, these weeks are weeks of discipline and devotion. Lent is a time to consider what we need to release. What do we need to let go of? What will we “give up” for Lent? What has a hold on us to the degree that it keeps us from recognizing the love and grace of God? There was a hymn we sang in years gone by, “Turn Back, O Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways.” (forswear made spell-check crazy!) The truth is that we all have foolish ways that need reflection. So we take time for prayer and worship, reflecting on our lives and on how we live them.
Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of the Lenten Season and our journey with Jesus to the Cross. We will be observing that tradition with our brothers and sisters in Christ from First Baptist Silver Spring on March 1 in our MHBC sanctuary. We will begin the evening with a pancake supper in Bethany Hall. We encourage you to join us for this inspirational time of fellowship and worship.
We can also use the weeks of Lent, not only to “give up” something, but “to take on” something. A lawyer once asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered his question with a question, “What is written in the Law? How do you understand it?” The lawyer replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus responded, “That is the right answer; DO that and you will live.”
As important as it may be to give up something, candy or smoking, or desserts for Lent, it may be equally helpful to DO something positive, or to take on something for Lent. We might take on meeting a need without anyone else knowing about it. We might take on financial support for an important ministry or cause. We might provide food for the hungry or clothing for the homeless. We could send an encouraging note, or make a call and let someone know how glad we are that they are in our lives. We could help a stranger, or lighten the load of a friend. There is no shortage of ministries or kindnesses that we might take on for Lent.
Giving up something for Lent is a tried and true Christian practice that reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us to show us how much God loves us. I suspect God would be perfectly fine with us if instead of giving up something for Lent, we used this season to take on something positive. Don’t you?
In Christ, Pastor Joel
Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell