Lent doesn’t seem to be very popular. It doesn’t have the appeal of Christmas or Easter. We don’t hear children complaining that Lent is too short. We don’t hear Lenten songs on the radio. We don’t really decorate for Lent or have Lent parties. Christmas and Easter are much more popular. So are Halloween and the Fourth of July.
Maybe it’s because Lent doesn’t lend itself well to parties or to presents. It reminds us more about repentance and sacrifice. It doesn’t have the fun factor that the popular holidays have. It’s slow and it’s sad. Lent is serious. The hymns are solemn. The message includes sin and suffering and death. People tend not to be attracted to that.
And then there are the extra services: Wednesday services, plus Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Who has time for those? While we have faster computers, smarter phones, instant communication, and a myriad of time saving devices, we actually have less time than ever before. We spend more time at work and more time with amusements, but we have less time for family and less time for God.
Are the Wednesday services worth the time? We have so many other commitments. We have careers and kids and a social life. We have a hundred things on our to-do lists. The days fly by and we wonder where in the world they went. Do we really need to try to fit Lent into that?
I think that we do. We need Lent. We need to clear our heads of everything that distracts us from what’s really important. We need to think about who we are and more importantly, Whose we are. We need to focus on the reason for our life. We need to think about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. We need to remember why we’re here and recognize the difference between the temporary and the eternal.
We need to remember the message of Lent. The message of Lent is not about how we have to repent or about how we have to sacrifice or about how we are such horrible sinners. It’s not about giving things up or about doom and gloom.
The message of Lent is love and salvation. It’s why Jesus came.
You see, we got lost. We got so involved with ourselves and the blessings that God gave us that the thought came into our minds that maybe we didn’t need God so much. Then that thought grew and we thought that maybe God was demanding too much. And then that thought twisted into the thought that God isn’t really that important after all. That thought grew into the thought that God isn’t the center of my life, that maybe I am. And that thought led us to rebel against God. And rebellion became normal. And we were lost. We were outside his kingdom and under judgment. We were headed to an eternity in hell.
But God still loved us. In spite of our rebellion and our apathy, he loved us enough to come here to rescue us from our sin and to rescue us from death and hell. He knew the price. He knew the pain. But he knew that we needed him, so he came. And he lived and he loved. And we suffered and he died to save us.
Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we get so lost in the glitz and the glamour and the rush of this world, that we forget about the next. Sometimes we forget about Jesus and his life and his death and his overwhelming love. Sometimes we need to slow down.
We need Lent. We need to move from the cold, indifferent, world to a warm and loving Savior. We need to stop to think, and to remember, and to worship. We need Lent.
I’m not sure that 40 days is long enough, but it’s what we have. Let’s make the most of it.