Lent is the season in the Church year where the Church calls its members to repentance. Christians often take on additional spiritual practices (sometimes including fasting, additional prayer, and acts of service) that help us grow closer to God, in part by eliminating the distractions that so often get in the way. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six Sundays until we get to Holy Week. All of this preparation reaches its end with the biggest celebration of the Church year–Easter. Unfortunately, Lent has a bad reputation as being a punitive and dour occasion for groveling before God and being reminded of our own miserableness. But Lent is not about groveling and misery, it’s about love.
One of my favorite theologians, Alexander Schmemann, says that Lent is a pilgrimage of repentance. To repent means “to return, to go back, to recover that lost home.” Where we belong is the loving household of God. As we make our way back toward our lost home this Lent, we will orient ourselves with the compass of love, but exploring what Jesus reveals to us about God’s love.
Few of us need to be told of our own miserableness, but we all need to be told of God’s love for us. When we look back to the stories of Jesus recorded in the Bible we see that the Christian faith, at its heart, is a religion of love. After all, as Fr. Schmemann points out, “Christ left with his disciples not a doctrine of individual salvation but a new commandment ‘that they love one another,’ and he added: ‘By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”
Each week I’ll post a Bible passage and a short reflection based on the conversation we have during our Bible Study. I encourage you to read them and post your comments, thoughts, or questions in the comments section below.
If you want to read ahead, here are the passages for each week:
- March 1 | Matthew 4: 1-11 – Jesus is led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil but does not sin
- March 8 | John 3:1-17 – Jesus tells a religious leader about love
- March 15 | John 4:5-42 – Jesus greets a Samaritan woman and many come to believe because of her testimony
- March 22 | John 9:1-41 – Jesus heals a man born blind but the pharisees are outraged because it’s on the Sabbath
- March 29 | John 11:1-45 – Jesus weeps for his friend Lazarus and then raises him from the dead
- April 5 (Palm Sunday) | Matthew 21:1-11 – Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd and then is condemned to death by the same crowd in Matthew 26:14- 27:66
- April 12 (Easter Sunday) | Matthew 28:1-10 – Jesus is raised from the dead and tells his disciples two things: don’t be afraid and come find me.