Lent: Time of Redemption (Preparation)
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Orlando MTC, Florida
17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus' 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus' resurrection after His crucifixion. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, reflection, penance, repentance of sins, sharing of one's resources with the needy, atonement, and self-denial. This is observed by many Christian Churches. Throughout the Christendom, many adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from things that are dear to them. In other words, this is a retooling opportunity for believers from their life pattern as a whole.
Lent is a season for penance which means sorrow for sin and conversion to God and godly ways. This tradition teaches that fasting and employing self-discipline during Lent will give a worshipper the "control over himself that he needs to purify his heart and renew his life." However, the Bible clearly shows that self-control - temperance - comes from having God's Holy Spirit working in the life of a converted mind (Gal. 5:16,17,22,23).
Fasting by itself is not a tool for penance. We read in Isaiah that, "Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:5-7)"
Lent carries a tone of reflection and re-evaluation of what was realized and assimilated in the life of a believer thus far. As such the preparation for redemption during Lent must come from a deep desire of one's heart in order to become a new creation from now on (John 3:3). And this process should not be a seasonal affair either.
Once a thief stopped a priest and demanded his wallet. As the priest reached in his pocket to hand over his money, the robber noticed his clerical collar and said, "I understand you are a priest. Never mind, you can go." The unexpected act of piety of the robber surprised the priest. As a sign of gratitude, the clergyman offered him a candy bar. The robber said, "no thank you, I don't eat candy during Lent." This is a real thought provoking story.
Life is a glorious opportunity if it is used to condition us for eternity. If we fail in this endeavour, though we succeed in many other things, our life will have been a failure. There is no escape for the one who squanders his time to prepare to accept Jesus Christ.
Merciful Lord, thank You for liberating us from our past. Strengthen us with Your presence as we move forward in a frighteningly changing world. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
"O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams." - Saint Augustine