There is a lot happening between now and Easter.
Ash Wednesday… This past Wednesday, Lent began for Christians around the globe. It was the day set aside to face the fact of human mortality, signified by placing ashes on their foreheads. It’s an annual grim reminder that we all came from dust and are going to return to dust someday.
Each year, many Christians observe Lent. For those who practice it, it’s a time to cultivate awareness of God’s presence and to remember the 40 days Jesus spent alone in the desert without food. In many ways, the desert symbolizes a spiritual place to which a person can withdraw in order to experience silence and solitude, away from the distractions and noises of the world.
While it isn’t in Mountainview’s tradition to practice the Lent season, I believe there is something thought-provoking and even beautiful about it. This is especially true when we see what is taking place around our world.
I was listening to a podcast by John Mark Comer, who served as a pastor in Portland. He told of Evagrius Ponticus, who went to the desert just like Jesus did. Evagrius had heard about Jesus going into the wilderness to face the devil and wanted to do the same.
This caused me to pause and consider what we typically think when we hear the word wilderness. The word is not usually something pleasant, especially if you liken the word to desert (not dessert). We view a wilderness as lonely, empty, and wild. Not so with Jesus and not so with Evagrius. For Jesus, it was an opportunity to be alone with God. There were no others to fight with. There was no news to watch and listen to. There were no social media trends to catch up with. It was a place to find silence, solitude, and resolve before beginning His public ministry. More than that, according to Evagrius of Pontus, the wilderness was actually a battlefield.
Lent brings a sense of solemnity and seriousness. The actual word “Lent” means “spring”. The next several weeks leading to Easter are meant for devotion and renewal with a sense that new life is coming and winter slowly fades. Lent leads up to Easter when we are reminded of Jesus, His Resurrection, and the new life He brings.
Even though Mountainview doesn’t practice the tradition of Lent as a whole church, I encourage you to embrace the wisdom and ideals this season brings, and be lifted up by the fact that Christians all over the world are becoming intentionally aware of the hope Jesus brings.
I’m looking forward to our Easter series, The Last Night, starting Sunday, March 20th. Be on the lookout for additional information about our Good Friday and Easter gatherings.
How about it? Can I count on you to join me as we seek to be intentional about preparing ourselves for Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus?
Grace & Peace