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Why We Need Lent - March 2020 Newsletter Article

No one expected it. There was no one, to my knowledge, who believed God would become human and identify with us in our misery. That, however, is the message of Lent. God entered our world to stand with us not against us.

Lent is forty days because Jesus was forty days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. This trial is a picture of his whole mission, shouldering the human condition, standing with us, not apart from us.

At that time there was a community, where the Dead Sea scrolls were later found, that separated itself from the rest of the world. It saw the world as "us and them". The religious leaders who lived among the people still stood apart from the people and also thought in terms of "us and them". Jesus came and turned everything upside down. He said he came to set the world on fire. He was going to burn down all that set itself against God's true purpose.

God is love, one of his disciples would later write. Another would say, Love bears all things. Where did they get this? From Jesus. The law of Christ is to bear one another's burdens.

Why Lent? Because we need to be reminded of this again and again. It’s not natural for us to think like this. It’s more natural for us to be over against, like the Dead Sea scroll community, like the religious leaders. In our estrangement from God, due to our sin, it is natural for us to think that God’s strange work, his wrath, is really his true and proper work. It’s hard for us to see his love. We need Jesus to show us again and again that God’s true and proper work is his love because he is love.

We also need Lent because we too are called to be for other people, but we can’t be for other people if we’re just like other people. We have to have something to offer. Holiness is essential.

I invite you to a Lenten observance, not as an obligation but as an opportunity, an opportunity to be renewed in your understanding of how God works, entering into our situation and overcoming it, and an opportunity to be renewed in your commitment to be more and more like the God you’re coming to know in Christ.

May you see once more, during this Lenten season, the glory of God revealed in the person of Christ, and as you do, may you be changed from one degree of glory to the next.

Lenten blessings!

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