St. Christopher's Episcopal Church
The Season of [Lent] Love
We are now firmly settled into the long, hard slog we refer to as Lent. We have been taught that it is a season of sacrifice – giving up things we like, such as Coca-Cola, chips, smoking, sweets, and so on. It is not supposed to be a happy time. The colors are somber, a little on the dark side. In some churches there may be little or no music during the Eucharist. Some of the more joyful or glorious prayers may be dispensed with. I mean, why should we be doing anything that might connote happiness? Jesus is getting ready to die, people. That should give us some pause.
Along with the somberness we are also urged to take a look at ourselves. Are we being the best that we can be? Or at least not so bad? We are urged to read the Bible and other spiritual texts, meditate, and pray. You could say that by giving up something we like, by not focusing on happy things, we will stand less chance of being distracted from soul-searching and prayer/meditation. Like Jesus, we can go off into our own little wilderness for 40 days and do what has to be done.
There are a lot of positives in all of the above. There is nothing wrong with making an effort to improving our lives spiritually and trying to get closer to God. It’s a good thing. But does it have to be so somber, so dreary, such a long, hard slog? No, it does not. Lent is nothing if it isn’t about love. It is the vehicle that is carrying us to the most joyful event in history, the supreme gift of love: Good Friday morphing into Easter. Jesus came to us (and still with us) to show us, demonstrate for us, to live out, in no uncertain terms how we must live in this world if we expect to be truly safe, secure, healthy, and happy. That’s what we want, isn’t it? There is only one way that we who are ALL God’s children will all ever attain such a state. We must love God totally and love each other as ourselves. Those who don’t can certainly have a good life, but only at the expense of their brothers and sisters (whom they don’t consider as brothers and sisters).
Lent celebrates the culmination of Jesus’s life and love. It is a joyful acknowledgement that, as the Gospel of John tells us, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save us all. It shows us the lengths that God is willing to go to ensure that we are saved and able to live a life that truly shows that we are saved. We have the example, the grace, the love of God to enable us, sustain us, and guide us in our own loving. In loving others, we love God. In loving God, we must be loving others.
Some people think that by “mindlessly” loving others, we are weakening ourselves, not taking what we “deserve”. We mustn’t forget that if we are loving each other, we are not just giving. We are also receiving. We’ll have what we need, ever more and more of us (maybe even what we want). Jesus assures us that is the case. Believe him.
So, Lent is a time that we should be looking at ourselves, determining where we are, where we should be going, and better ways to get there. But let us not get lost in the wilderness. Let us also focus on the love that Jesus once and always shows. It is the love we should be aspiring to, practicing, living. Knowing that God is there for us gives us the hope and the strength to carry us beyond the season of love into our entire lives.
Beverly A. Tasy