I always feel sort of strange whenever I say that Lent is my favorite season of the church year. Well, I guess I don’t necessarily feel strange but rather I get some strange and confused looks! Lent certainly doesn’t have the building anticipation or contain the holiday parties like Advent. And for as far a reach as Easter and the Easter Bunny has on a cultural level, they just don’t seem to hold a candle to Christmas.
Now, not that I’m trying to pit the two against one another! I’m not! Folks just have a bit of a hard time believing that I’d chose this season over any other. Yet this is the gift of the liturgical calendar. Whereas in Advent we learn to do the work of cultivating the spiritual resources found in waiting, and then celebrate at Christmas the beautiful practice of Spiritual gift giving, we take a different turn come Lent.
We take a turn in lent, not necessarily inward towards ourselves to be more introspective, thought that may certainly happen, we learn to turn ourselves back to the God who first formed us out of the ash in which we smudge upon our foreheads on the first day of the season.
It can seem like an act of piety to begin this way; a way to publicly call attention to what we’re seeking to accomplish, but this act is more a leveling, an evening out. For we all are made of dust beloved. And even though we confront our mortality in doing so, our bold claim is to say that this, even this, is good news. This dust and ash compel us to turn toward the power and love of God as both the beginning of our lives and the end of our lives come colliding together.
The dust of our creation, the dust of our end meeting together in the present moment of our baptisms held in one in the promise of baptism in the promise of God. We carry our heads a bit heavier for the weight the carry, our souls are made lighter. And now marked by what unites us, we journey together these forty days becoming beacons for this great promise of redemption.
And it’s this that makes Lent my favorite season of the church year. For as goofy or nostalgic you may happen to remember church Lenten soup suppers, or not even remember them at all; for the way in which we collectively as community focus upon not only seeking to better ourselves, but better our fellow neighbor; for the way in which the story of the gospel has been carried for generations forever changing, yet somehow always familiar: this season, it never fails to warm my heart and fill my soul no matter the hardships we face because we journey together. And then, come that bright Easter morn, my heart is bursting with a joy and love made possible by all of you.
God’s Peace & Lenten Blessings,
Pastor Dave Elliott