Many people know that I did not grow up in the Church. I was eventually confirmed in the Lutheran Church when I was in my later teen years during my time at St Peters Lutheran College at Indooroopilly.
I remember knowing all about Shrove Tuesday as a child. It was pancake day. Even in my family home we had pancakes with honey or syrup. I don’t remember anything about Ash Wednesday or Lent, even though Ash Wednesday is just the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Lent is a hard “Church Year” season to explain to people who aren’t usually part of the life of the Church. Lent is the time that the Church speaks of mortality and of sin and of the life of Jesus Christ travelling to Jerusalem where he is going to die a horrible death. Without the knowledge of faith, this season of the year is difficult to understand.
The good news of Jesus is the story of his death on the cross for the sin of the world.
The good news of Jesus is the story of his rising on the third day to reveal his victory over sin, death and the power of the Devil.
The good news of Jesus is this message of all that God has done for us, because of God’s great love for us.
So, Lent is such a very hopeful time of the Church year. We know the ending of the story. Most of all we know this is the story of God’s grace for sinners… even us.
We travel the journey of Lent to be well-prepared for Good Friday. We take up these weeks of Lent to appreciate the “goodness” of the Friday where we see the Lord of Glory suffer and die on the cross. He dies to reveal God’s love for the world, that sin would be forgiven and humankind would have peace with God.
Therefore, the message of Lent is of God’s abundant love for sinners shown in the cross.
There is a well-loved Lenten hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded from writer Paul Gerhardt which teaches the grace of God in the work of the cross, summarizing what we call the “Great Exchange”. In verse four of the hymn, Gerhardt wrote:
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour,
‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favour,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
As you travel these weeks of Lent, may the feet of God walk with you, and God’s hand hold you tight.