What Is Lent?
Lent simply means “springtime.” It is the season in the Christian year when followers of Jesus walk with him to his death and burial, so that we can participate fully with him in his resurrection. Lent is the forty days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. It begins Ash Wednesday and ends Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). When we engage in this season the way faithful Christians have throughout the centuries, we renounce and re-order our rhythms into Christ.
Lent is about rhythm. We are rhythmic creatures. We do things in sequences and steps, marching to the beats of drummers. The problem is, there are many drummers out there, pounding away to capture our attention, calling us to follow them and submit to their stories. Lent is the Jesus drum, calling us back into the left-right-left of God's Story. If it is not Jesus' drum that we're marching to, it's someone else's. If it is not the Story of God that we're submitting our lives to, it’s someone else's story.
Lent is a time for the church to renounce all the other stories we have let define us, and to submit singularly to God's Story. This is not a robotic submission. Robots don't have hearts. We march to the beats of drummers because we actually like the music they're playing. We desire the life they present to us, and so we follow them. With every beat and step we are being formed to look like the drummer we're following. This is why it's so important that we get in step with Jesus. We want to be like him.
In order to become like Jesus we re-order our life once again into the Story that defines who we are as his followers. During Lent we identify with the Story of Israel, which finds fulfillment in the Story of Jesus. We, like Israel, have fallen and wander around in the wilderness. And we, like Jesus, must wrestle in the desert of temptation. We enter into his sufferings. We fast. We pray. We simplify our lives. And we do so together as the body of Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, and for the glory of God our Father.