Let me start by following up on my Lenten post yesterday. I didn’t like my tone. In retrospect, I was aggravated about the state of Christianity, at least on my Facebook page. 🙂 I really like the evolutionary quality of a blog and yesterday as I read through my last post and several from earlier days, I saw several patterns in my own spiritual development, so I’m not changing my post from yesterday just expounding on it.
First of all, I left something out. A friend of mine who is exploring the faith right now ask me about Lent and Ash Wednesday last night. I explained the purpose as best as I could, it was obviously fresh on my mind. As he was asking questions, it seemed to me that he had begun to grasp one of the central enigmas of our faith concerning the crucifixion and all of the ceremony and ritual leading up to Good Friday and Easter: Why do they call it Good Friday? In other words, do we celebrate the death of Christ or do we mourn it? When all is said and done, are we devastated that our choices led to the death of Jesus or are we overjoyed by His sacrifice on the cross?
This is what I left out of yesterdays post. It was my Facebook friend Scotty Smith who pointed it out this morning:
“A sign you’re growing in grace: Lent is not a season for navel-gazing introspection but cross-surveying celebration.” @scottywardsmith
Okay, so in my annoyance with ‘false’ practices and silly but well-meaning believers, I missed the main point. The human element of Lent is about purpose and focus and preparation, but the main element is Jesus. Lenten gives me forty days to understand that I am broken and to celebrate my redemption.”When I survey the wondrous Cross,” the old hymn says, “on which the King of Glory died, my greatest gain I count but loss and throw contempt on all my pride.” It goes on to say, “See from His head, His hands, His feet love and sorrow flow mingled down. Did ever such love and sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown?”Another old hymn says, “In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.”
So I guess the truth is that we feel joy and mourning; celebration and introspection. Forty days to cross myself and remember that my selfishness was and is costly. Forty days to make sure I understand that God’s love for me is deeper and higher and wider than I can possibly fathom. Forty days to remember the Gospel and its mighty power. I pray that you experience a joyous and memorable Lenten season.
Here’s Ben Harper from 1997 to take us out.