I know it may sound a bit odd, but Lent is my favorite time of the church year. Why? Things matter during Lent. The plot thickens. The Jesus we found in a manger, having dinner with Zacheus, or walking on water, begins to focus with alarming clarity on the reason he came. Lent is a serious time when loss and brokenness become central characters. You can see why you haven’t received a Lenten Hallmark card, or why the stores are not filled with Lenten decorations.
Yes, Lent has a reputation for being depressing, and it would be depressing if we just focused on the depravity of humankind. But Lent is not about beating ourselves up, it is about following Jesus. It is about moving beyond curiousness, and coming to grips with the seriousness of Jesus’ call to follow him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us that, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”
Andrew Root in his book, The Promise of Despair, explains what it means to follow Jesus:
“The only criterion to follow Jesus is to know death through loss, yearning and brokenness, to not avoid it but enter it. It is a narrow path because few are brave enough to make their life in brokenness, few are brave enough to choose the weakness of love over the “strength” of power, few can recognize glory in the power to bear death.”
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. Romans 6:5
It is my hope and prayer this Lenten season that we would refocus our lives through the lens of the cross. That by leaning into the death, loss and brokenness that fills our life, we would see “a God who is not disgusted by human deformity, disgrace, or disease, but who takes all these things upon God’s own person. Because of the cross there is never again a suffering that has not penetrated the very heart of God, which God does not know in his own person through the crucified humanity of Jesus Christ.” (Andrew Root, Relationships Unfiltered)
So, this Lenten season, follow Jesus as he journeys to Jerusalem to face death, a death he endures for you and me. Follow also as he overcomes death in order that we may have life. Life through death, wholeness through brokenness.
This is the way of Jesus, follow.