Friday, February 20, 2015

Lent: Getting past the word to something more

Around Christmastime our pastor reminded us that Jesus does not command us to remember or celebrate His birth, but rather, to embrace and revisit His death and resurrection.
But, oh, the permissive excess of Christmas in comparison to Easter's brief nod leaves something for the Christian home to reevaluate. After all, shouldn't we be spending more time--not less--preparing for that which makes our eternal life possible?

Our hope.
Our joy.
Our purpose.
Our fulfillment.
Our salvation.
Our very life.

All depends on His death and His resurrection.

When I reflect on my childhood memories, Lent was a strange word, associated with Catholics (a questionable denomination to my Baptist upbringing). Easter meant a frilly, new dress, and resounding "special" music, and chilly sunrise services at dawn, and egg hunts, daffodils, and an extravagant meal with my family.

All well and fine. However, I want this season to carry so much more for my kids. I want them to understand that Lent is more than just ashes and giving up.  Ash Wednesday begins our six-week trek to the Cross, the only place--by the Only One--who could pull us up from the ashes and restore us to something beautiful. 

So many people think that something beautiful reveals itself from within--"we're all basically good people who can earn our way to heaven." Is that right?  The glorious afterlife comes only because of the glorious sacrifice. Without it, we are dust. Nothing. And nothing within us will change that.

"It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth..." -- Pope Benedict XVI

Furthermore, we need to revisit our broken human state if we are to grasp the overwhelming gift of the cross--our death, our deserved punishment, our grace.  We needed Him, the perfect, sinless Son of God to sacrifice Himself if we are ever to be who we are intended to be. The prison cell forever barred our freedom; Jesus was the key.

At some point — your Love runs out, and You need a Love larger than your own to Love Larger than evil.

The only Love that can come take down the kind of evil that’s invaded our world, has to come from beyond the walls of the world.The only Love that can crush undeniable evil is the undeniable love of the Cross.When you’re just dust — your love alone will not be enough.Super evil can only be absorbed by a supernatural kind of Love. ~Ann Voskamp
I want to recognize with joyful gratitude the journey Jesus made for me. Yes, we can give up and fast and pray--necessary components to our walk with Him--but my desire is that Lent would carry this excited anticipation that bows down, "God, you did this--for me..for us! God, your are glorious. Thank you." For if nothing else, we should be led to worship. 
For practical application with small children, try one of these ideas:

Here are the printables for the wreath.
Another idea.
Take time to pray together as a family, read through the Gospels and journey with Jesus,  make palm leaves out of paper and sing a praise song as a family, wash each other's feet on Maundy Thursday and take Communion together, make a crown of thorns and talk about how He suffered for us on Good Friday, and on Resurrection Sunday...celebrate. Oh, yes! For just as He is alive, so are we made alive forever in Him! 

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