More than mere commemoration of Jesus' sacrifice, though, I believe the season of Lent reminds us of a necessary process that we as followers of Jesus need to undergo on a regular basis.
We need Lent because it reminds us of a necessary dying that needs to happen in our lives on a regular basis. We need to constantly die to ourselves that Christ may live in us. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20a, CEB).
The practice of fasting, not just from food but from other creature comforts, is synonymous with the season of Lent. However, this practice of giving things up only works when we do it as a way of clearing our cluttered and busy lives to make room for Christ. And this practice only works when it continues all throughout the year and not just during Lent. Lent is meant to jumpstart us on this habit of dying to ourselves daily so that Christ may live in us.
Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Galatians 2:20 helps sum it up: "Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not 'mine,' but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that." (The Message).
What is it in our lives that needs to die so that Christ may live in us?
Bishop Grant Hagiya, in a sermon during a Clergy Retreat a couple of years ago said, "In order for Easter, for new life to happen, some things have to die." Richard Rohr echoes that when he wrote, "We need to deeply trust and allow both our own dyings and our own certain resurrections, just as Jesus did! This is the full pattern of transformation."
What is it in the way we do things as churches, as families, as organizations and as a conference that need to die, in order for new life to happen?
What are the systems and structures that God is calling us to put an end to, in order for transformation and resurrection to occur?
May this season of Lent be a meaningful time of reflection for all of us, intentionally confronting the serious question: In what areas of our individual and corporate lives do we need to die in order for Christ to fully live in us?
May this Lent truly be a season of necessary dying.
Your fellow disciple,