I stink at Lent.
In my defense, I came late to it. I’m from a Southern Baptist background (that’s “Southern” with a capital “S”) and didn’t even know what Lent was all about until a few years ago. Mostly Lent, to me, meant self-deprivation – you know, somebody is always giving something up for Lent.
Now I belong to a church where Lent is actually a thing. We are encouraged to use the 40 days leading up to Easter to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s a beautiful idea but I fail in the execution. Part of my problem is that I am a poor planner. Let me rephrase that: I’m actually a pretty good planner with terrible follow-through. I believe that makes me what is commonly known as a procrastinator.
Also, basically it’s 40 days of waiting. I’m terrible at waiting. And 40 days is a long time, am I right?
But then comes Holy Week.
Something happens to my heart during Holy Week.
I’m once again overwhelmed with emotion at the perfectly choreographed series of events that culminated in the resurrection of Christ.
It’s like (as with so many other things) I suddenly look up and realize – it’s almost here. It’s coming and if I don’t wake up I’m going to miss out, and my heart starts beating a little faster.
Palm Sunday rolls around and I read about how they shouted “Hosanna” and laid down palm branches for His donkey to walk on, and I think He knows. He knows that all these happy faces who are greeting Him like the King He truly is, they’re going to turn on Him in just a few days. How can you enjoy the accolades when you know they will become jeers in mere days?
I think about the disciples and how confused they must have been at Jesus’ words. He’d said all along that He had to go away and prepare a place for them, but even with the miracles they’d seen, they couldn’t know what was coming.
The players in this drama couldn’t have imagined that they would be witnessing the greatest sacrifice and then the greatest miracle the world has ever known, and it was all for them. And me. And you. And all of mankind.
I think about His mother Mary, because I’m a mother and I cannot so much as even think about the idea of watching my own child die that way, for I have no doubt that she saw Christ as her much-loved son as well as her Saviour.
Each day of Holy Week weighs heavy on my heart from the gravity of my sin. My sin that led Him to that cross.
The last supper.
The betrayal of Judas.
The travesty of a trial.
The march to Calvary.
And in the midst of the agony, mercy for the man hanging beside Him.
And for the ones persecuting Him: Father forgive them..
And mercy for me.
That Good Friday seemed to be anything but good.
Love drove Christ straight to that cross and love kept Him there.
(And now I get to write my two favorite words in the whole world…)
But God had a master plan, and it was not for His Son to stay in the grave.
Three days later He came back, just like He said He would.
(I wonder sometimes how I would have responded to Jesus in those days. I have the advantage of history and seeing Him proven faithful over and over, but those who walked with Him had to take Him at His word.)
God doesn’t leave us dead in our sin either. Easter is a reminder of the way I was once dead inside but given new life in Christ.
I think maybe I save up all my Lent meditation for Holy Week because now it seems like I can’t stop thinking about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Better late than never, I suppose.
(If you’ve managed to read my ramblings to this point, thank you for your patience.)
How about you? Do you do anything special to prepare for Easter?