Lent is Coming.
Lent is a season that is often ignored or misunderstood. It is a time of change and renewal, and a time of year when Christians tend to focus doing better. We focus on things like self-denial, discipline, repentance, and the forgiveness that we receive through Jesus Christ. Lent guides us toward the joy of Easter and our new life in Christ; and we get the name from an old English word that means “spring”. Lent is the time of year when we see the first signs of life and faith, just starting to emerge from winter.
Many Christians don’t celebrate this season of the church year, but we do. In Lent we have an opportunity to remember and give thanks for all that God has done for us. A chance to let God transform our lives according to that which God desires for us and from us.
Lent has become a time of hollow self-improvement. We give things up like chocolate, coffee, bad habits, etc., when we should consider taking on additional practices like prayer, reading scripture, journaling, acts of kindness and mercy, etc.
The Whole is Greater than Sum of its Parts
When we focus on the story of Jesus during Lent, we focus on the parts and not the whole. We join the disciples as they gather for the Last Supper, weep with the ones who stood nearby as Jesus was on the cross, and show up and see the empty tomb on Easter and then go to tell others. We don’t often understand how the whole story is needed for the parts to make sense.
My thoughts recently have been centered on a couple questions. How do these pieces of Jesus’ life and ministry fit together to show us what they mean in our lives? What exactly is God trying to show us and do for us? And do we even understand when it is right before our eyes?
Being “At One” and Finding Grace
Each Sunday of Lent, we’ll be spending some time talking about atonement. Atonement is a complicated word that is often taken to mean a reparation, to make amends, to redeem. It comes from a Middle English word that comes from the Latin “adunamentum” meaning unity.
Atonement. At-one-ment. This part of theology speaks of how God draws us in and invites us to be at one with God. The challenge is that the Bible isn’t really clear on how this happens. There are lots of theories and ideas. Some people follow one exclusively, and some people pull a little from each. During Lent we’ll explore how the Bible talks about God drawing us in, inviting us to be made whole, and restoring our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We’ll explore what it means to be saved and redeemed by the work of Jesus – because how and why Jesus atones for us is bigger and better than we think.