Day 5: Monday, February 27, 2023
Why/How Do We Celebrate/Observe the Lenten Season?
Scripture: Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:10-11 (NRSV)
Devotion: I will say right off that Lent is a difficult subject for me to write about, and I think the reason is that I do not feel I truly understand its whole premise and purpose. As far as I can remember, I do not recall it being emphasized that much when I was a child, although I am sure it must have been. After all, it seems to me that my family took me to our small farming community Methodist Church in Verden, Oklahoma (pop. 450-500} “every time the doors were open” (and sometimes when they were not). Our attendance was 45-50. It was a very close-knit group of dedicated, devoted Christians who carried on faithfully despite having a rotating door of students, shared, and near retirement-type pastors. I remember very well being in Christmas programs (even with gift exchanges), wearing whatever new clothing item I had just received to Easter sunrise service and morning worship, annual 7-day Spiritual Revivals with visiting ministers, Bible School, church camp, Dad being worship leader, Mom being the pianist, and always wearing a rose boutonniere on Mother’s Day (red if she was living, white it not). I even remember one year I received two little baby chickens dyed pastel colors, which at least we could keep and add to my grandfather’s pen of chickens in our backyard. Among all this, not one memory of observing Lent or getting ashes on Ash Wednesday, I am sad to say.
The other thing that seems odd about Lent is even though it is such a somber, reflective time, many people celebrate the period of Mardi Gras and “Fat Tuesday” leading up to it in the strangest ways. Some of these are wild costume parades and massive parties of drinking, dancing, and dining, seemingly to “make up” for the things they will be deprived of during the 40 days of Lent. This seems to defeat the purpose, but that may be the human nature of people.
During this Lenten Season, let us strive to solemnly reflect on the sacrifices Jesus made for us while in the desert for 40 days being tempted by Satan, as well as contemplating what was ahead of Him and how He was going to accomplish the purpose of His soon to begin ministry. During those 40 days, Jesus fasted and was tempted by Satan in so many ways during His 3-year ministry. He was ridiculed, mocked, ignored, challenged, denied, beaten, and ultimately crucified, all for the purpose of salvation and redemption of the sins of each and every one of us.
During these 40 days of Lent, let’s each strive to reflect on the sacrifices He made, acknowledge the sins we have committed, which he gave his life to have forgiven, and strive to be better versions of ourselves by the end of Lent. Hopefully, this will enable us to enjoy and appreciate His resurrection come Easter morning like we never have before.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to be truly mindful of the sacrifices your son Jesus made and His love for each of us. Please give us the strength and determination to acknowledge our failures and commit to earnestly strive to do better in the future. Amen.