Saturday, March 15, 2014

Warming up by the fire

This winter has been one for the ages.  I think most people can agree to that.  It's hard to believe we are only a few days away from Spring.  And while we are that much closer to warmer weather, today has even greater significance.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.  A time that most people associate with a black smudge on the forehead and giving up candy, TV, beer or something else we normally feel we can't live without.  But, rather than taking the traditional view of sacrificing our indulgences and eating fish on Friday, I'd like to propose a slightly different take.  I like to think of Lent as warming up by the fire.

There's almost nothing that compares to a good fire to warm up those shivering bones on a cold winter day, sitting around a campfire singing songs with friends, or simply chilling out around a fire pit in your back yard. It's welcoming and reinvigorating - it's healing.

Lent is perfectly placed as winter transitions to spring.  Winter is cold, dark and long, much like death.  Spring is warm, bright and full of life.  We all long and hope for those warmer days, to feel the sun on our faces and to see green grass, blooming flowers and budding trees.  Just as spring brings new life from what winter has left dead, Lent reminds us of the new life we have in Jesus Christ who saves us from our death from sin.  But, Lent isn't just about giving things up and it isn't just about remembering Jesus' passion on the cross.  Those are certainly aspects of Lent; however, they serve a purpose.  Lent represents a time of renewal and rebirth.  It's where we take time to pause and recognize our imperfections, our sins and our dependence on God.  More importantly, we commit to improve those imperfections, seek forgiveness and avoid those sins, and recognize that we are dependent on God's help.  We recall that Christ calls us to be perfect, he died for the forgiveness of our sins, was resurrected to conquer death,  and he sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey.

Lent then is a time of renewal.  A time when we seek to draw closer to God.  Hebrews 12:29 tells us that "our God is a consuming fire." So let's take our cold wet bones, shivering from our sins and imperfections, and come warm up by the fire.

What are your thoughts on Lent?

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