People are seasonal creatures. That is to say, we usually (unless we live in Hawaii!) expect the year to have a rhythm to it–spring to summer to autumn to winter and back again. I’m sitting at home in northern Virginia looking out the windows of my “sunroom” on a beautiful winter scene of snow, which feels right for February 25. In the same way, there is a natural rhythm to the year for Christians as well. It begins in Advent, with the preparation for the celebration of the Nativity, a kind of Old Testament period of watching and waiting. Beginning with Christmas, we place the events of the birth, life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the forefront, followed by the coming of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Church. Today is part of that rhythm.
In the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s Book of Worship, the observance of the season of the church year are commended to us this way: “Each time of worship should give expression to the whole Gospel. However, it is also appropriate to give special emphasis to certain times of the Church year, wherein the whole life of Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the whole counsel of God is celebrated.” About the season into which we now enter, it says this: “Lent, ending in Holy Week, wherein the Church observes a time of repentance and humility, of sacrifice and self-denial, as it celebrates the death of Christ upon the cross for the sins of the world.”
So it is that we begin a time of self-examination, that we may confess our sin unto almighty God; a time of self-understanding, that we may be humbled through the recognition of our proper place before the throne of God; a time of giving, that we may learn what it means to be a servant and imitator of the One who gave Himself for us; a time of turning from self, that we may be renewed in our worship of the One who is the center of our lives and have our love for Him and His people reignited. Lent is a season whose 40 days parallels the 40 days our Lord spent in the wilderness of Judea, and just as He, during that time, was faced with temptation and defeated it, we are called during this time to face our own demons and by the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat them as well. May this season be one of spiritual growth and revitalized faith for all of God’s people, that He may be glorified therein.