Christians around the world know that this past Wednesday we entered into the season of Lent. It all begins each year with Ash Wednesday.
Lent comes from the Dutch word Lente, meaning “Spring” (I think there’s some German background in there as well). It’s a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) centered around a time of examining our lives, repentance, and fasting. We do this as we remember Christ’s own 40-day period in the wilderness.
In all, Lent culminates with the weekend of Good Friday, Silent Saturday, and then Resurrection Sunday (Mar 30 – Apr 1 this year).
But many people may ask why we participate in Lent? It seems so stuffy and religious, so outdated. So why participate in it?
Before I go on to answer that question, watch this very brief video below. What you will find is a camera focused on one particular spot. This camera just sits there day after day, week after week, month after month, season after season. The shot helps us peer into a particular setting of creation, watching the changes and adaptations over a 365-day, one-year period.
So take 45 seconds and watch.
It’s amazing how fast this video cycles through the 365 days. Almost too fast, if you ask me.
But here’s the connecting point with Lent.
God has set up creation in such a way that it cycles through four seasons each year: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Some places may have only two distinguishable seasons, but generally we have been given these four seasons as gifts. I personally love Fall – the significant changes that take place across nature; the leaves as they turn yellow, orange and red; the cooler weather (but not too cold). It all draws me in. Deeply.
This is what we have in creation. And just as creation rhythmically cycles through the seasons, so the church has been given a rhythmic cycle to walk through year after year after year. We’ve been doing this now for centuries upon centuries.
It’s called the Christian calendar.
It’s our liturgical rhythm.
That’s all liturgy is. The definition of this word is not “stuffy, religious rituals,” but rather a good definition of liturgy is the regular rhythms set in place in order that the church be spiritually formed in the image of Christ.
The Christian calendar is a tangible way to engage with the bigger story of our faith in Christ. It provides a kind of sensory opportunity for seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling the grand story.
I encourage you to watch the short video below. It helps in making the story more practical for us.
As you watch the video, remember how that one spot in creation cycled through the rhythmic changes of the seasons. The trees, the bushes, the leaves, the grass were all formed as creation moved through the seasons. And then imagine how the church can be rhythmically shaped in Christ as it walks through the beautiful story of the Christian calendar.
Blessings in this Lent season as we seek him through reflection and repentance.