The Christmas season seems to get longer and longer every year, doesn’t it? This ever-lengthening focus on Christmas seems largely to be a result of stores’ and merchants’ desire to extend the Christmas shopping season. But, an unintended side effect of their marketing schemes is that, despite the busyness of the season, most of us spend at least a month leading up to Christmas making some sort of preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ.
But, what about Easter? How much time do we spend preparing to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord? I fear that for many of us, it’s far too little. Year after year, Easter seems to sneak up on us and we barely find time to do more than grab a few boxes of Peeps and iron a shirt or dress for Easter Sunday. (If we even get that far!) Though it isn’t biblically mandated, there is much wisdom in making use of the season of Lent.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian gospel, and Good Friday and Easter are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian year. Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Good Friday and Easter. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, such as a wedding or commencement, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
The practice of a forty-day preparation period began in the Christian church during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty carries biblical significance based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday and continue through holy week, not counting Sundays (which are reserved for celebratory worship).
(The Worship Sourcebook p. 551)
Lent is a season to prepare for Good Friday and Easter corporately and personally. Corporately, we will be focusing elements of our worship gatherings on Lent, and we will be gathering for worship on Good Friday. But, we also encourage you to make use of the the Lenten season personally. If you’re unsure of how to to go about observing Lent, check out this blog post for resources and guidance. Sure, if you haven’t started yet, you’ve missed the first couple of days, but don’t let that be an obstacle! Better to miss a few days of preparation than to miss out on preparing altogether and, once again, to miss out on the greater joy that God intends for us to have in the celebration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus!