My family didn’t grow up doing Lent. In fact, other than my parents and grandparents talking about fish for Friday meals, I don’t recall really hearing anything about it. One Sunday afternoon at youth group changed that. Someone mentioned that they were going to give up chocolate or soda. A few minutes later, the circled rounded to me I participated in my very first Lent. I think I gave up sweets.
Over the years, my relationship with Lent and giving things up has been an on and off again thing. This year, I didn’t give Lent a second glance. When Lent was starting, I happened to be starting a very different kind of in depth study and didn’t feel I could give the time to both. I said a cold hard, “see you later, Lent” as I left it in the rearview mirror. As time has grown closer and closer to Easter though, my heart is changing. I’ve set aside the other study for a reprieve amongst the intenseness of it. Within this break, I’ve started to feel weird that I’m not as focused on Lent as my instagram feed is. Weird that I’m a Christian who is “failing” because I didn’t give Lent my all.
Lent isn’t about pretty instagram sayings on little square backgrounds or the eloquent words some of my friends string together under photos though. Lent isn’t about giving up chocolate and then sneaking a piece on Sundays because that day doesn’t count. It isn’t something you can “fail”. It’s about Jesus. All the moments leading up to the ultimate sacrifice that He gave for us as he died for our sins on the cross. It’s about intentionally connecting with Jesus whether it’s for the entire season or for a few days. Isn’t having that relationship with Him what this is all about anyway?
It’s days before Easter. Can I really start Lent now?
Why not start now? It may feel weird. I don’t believe God thinks it’s weird. I think he just wants to connect with us regardless if we start on the right day or not. We can’t go back in time and start Lent weeks ago. At least I can’t, my DeLorean is currently in the shop. Just kidding, I don’t really have a DeLorean time machine. What we can do is start digging into the Easter story and the moments leading up to it. We can delve into the moments before Good Friday and give it more time than just an Easter Sunday church service. We can intentionally sit and spend time with Jesus starting today.
This morning, I got up and did my normal routine which includes reading the daily quote on a quote-a-day calendar that I was given years ago. This is today’s quote:“Ours is a God of Mondays, of new beginnings, of starting again, of seasons and weekends and tomorrows. He begins the day with love and ends it with faithful. And then again tomorrow.” – Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky. It reiterated that it was okay for me to start whenever because each day is a new beginning, even with Lent.
What Lent Study Can I really do before Easter? Will I even get anything out of it?
I just started a Lent study a few nights ago on a YouVersion study. It’s called The Final Lessons: A Holy Week Plan and is by Becky Kiser of Sacred Holidays. I am loving it so far. It’s short, simple, sweet but has a huge depth to it. What stood out to me last night when we were studying John 12:12-13 is something that I always overlook. It’s the word hosanna. It’s been a word that ever since Sunday School was kind of a throwaway word as I read over it and around it but never truly read it. Becky’s words caused me to pause and really look at this so often overlooked word.
“Hosanna was a form of praise, but it also was a word used to talk about salvation, help or rescue—to ask for it or proclaim that it is here.” – Becky Kiser. Hosanna isn’t a word that has particularly significant meaning to me by itself since it’s always alluded me. With those words attached to it though, especially rescue, it changes things. Rescue is a word that I can really understand there.
Let’s take a look at John 12:12-13: “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
I’ve always read that with the connotation of Hosanna being something along the lines of “awesome” but that’s just a part of it. Putting the word rescue in its place changes so much. In my mind, it seems more active now. We know why we’re shouting Hosanna. We know that Jesus is here to rescue us. The combination of awesome and rescue intermingles praise with desperation. Something, that is so felt in my heart as I am desperate to be saved from the sins I struggle with and so thankful for how He has rescued me and continues to rescue me.
Y’all, I’m 2 days in and loving it. I highly recommend you go and download it. Don’t let Easter pass you by without even stopping to glance at it. With Easter baskets, Sunday best, nice lunches and Easter egg hunts, it can be so easy to forget about the true meaning. That there’s something more to Lent. Don’t let that be you. Yes, you can start Lent today. It’s not too late. You don’t even have to call it Lent. Call it connecting intentionally with Jesus. Call it a quiet time. It doesn’t matter what you name it, just let that time be His and don’t let Easter Sunday be the end to you connecting with Jesus. It’s not just a Lent thing. It’s a life thing.