Prelude to Lent
Sadly, Lent may not be as popular as Advent. Advent lasts for four weeks and prepare us for the joyous celebration Christmas and all that goes with it. Lent on the other hand lasts for forty days. During these forty days we are asked to give up things we like when we fast. Jesus invites us to travel with him as he says, ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ We are also encouraged and even challenged to repent and believe the Good News. Described like this, Lent does not sound very inviting. However, let’s not dismiss this sacred season too quickly.
Lent is not a time for us to wallow in our guilt and sinfulness. In fact it is quite the opposite. Through the prayers, readings, liturgy and symbols of Lent God reaches out to us and proclaims… At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is day of salvation. (2 Cor. 1-2).
The message, call and invitation of Lent is repent and believe the Good News. What is this Good News? If we have the courage, strength and humility to repent, then God, who never stops loving us will accept us, welcome us home and forgive us. Through the gift and journey of Lent God offers each of us the tender and compassionate invitation, ‘Come back to me with all heart.’ (Joel 2.12). One of the role models and examples of this is the Prodigal Son. He did turn his back to his family and home. However, he came to his senses; he went home with all his heart. He was honest and humble enough to admit he had made a mistake. This is what conversion and repentance mean; to be honest with ourselves, admit our faults, return to God who is waiting to heal and forgive us. Because God is full of tenderness and compassion, slow to be angry with us and most loving. (Ps.103.😎
The other powerful example from scripture is the story we call the ‘Woman caught in adultery.’ She is brought before Jesus and threatened with stoning. However once Jesus challenges the men, he then turn his attention to this poor woman. He reaches out his hand; he not only lifts her up from the ground, he raises us back up at all levels. He neither judges condemns or criticizes her. However, he does ask her not to do it again.
During Lent, we have nothing to fear or to be guilty about. We are invited to return home to God with all our heart. We won’t be judged, condemned or criticized. We will be loved, healed and forgiven just as this son and woman were.
What are we waiting for?
Michael Moore OMI