The Lenten Season has a long, varied beginning and history. So, I’m not going to take you through all of that. What I will do is break it down. It’s an opportunity for you to take out the trash and allow the house of your heart to breathe. Before each of us is a chance to understand Easter through this season’s vocabulary:
- Shrove Tuesday — The day we use as confession of our sins in order to be absolved by God of our sins; this cleanses our hearts and our consciences so that we can fully embrace our 40 days of prayer and fasting, with the purpose of drawing closer to God.
- Ash Wednesday — The day we attend a service in order to receive ashes that represent our full dependence upon God. How so? “From dust you came and to dust you shall return,” says the minister or priest, reminding us that without God there is no life. God took dust of the ground and breathed into into it the breathe of life. Life was born in us from God. It is a gift and we “are” because of Him and His mercy. This service is a service of humility and commitment to seeking the Giver of Life, free and clear of any and all distractions through the focus of helpful Christian practices.
- Lent — The 40 days (46 when Sunday’s are included) that lead to Easter. “40” in the Bible is a common Biblical number that signifies journey and commitment. We fast or abstain from certain things in order to divest ourselves of that which separates us from God, and we journey to Him in faith and focus, leaving our burdens behind us. We fill the gaps or vacuum with godly practices, replacing what we’ve given up with a form of godliness. We may pray or read or serve in various ways in order to commit ourselves further deeper to God. We do not fast on Sundays because every Sunday is a celebration of resurrection and new life, therefore we do not fast on the day that is meant for feasting and rejoicing.
- Easter — the day of resurrection, when Christ defeated death by overcoming it. Jesus is master of life and death. Lent prepares us to fully embrace this truth and reality so that we can be “Easter People.” What is Easter to those who fill themselves to the brim and leave no room for God? But through a season of fasting and true perspective, we can empty ourselves of that which is temporal so that God will fill us with that which is eternal.
The question is, will you return to dust this Lenten Season and let God breathe the breath of life into you? Will you fast from things that do not ultimately matter and HOLD FAST to all that does matter (Christ)? From dust you came and to dust you will return. Return to dust in your heart and let God breath into you life!