February 17, 2020 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Do you Lent? I grew up in church but I never heard about this special season leading up to Easter. Ah, yes. Easter – we Christians know about Easter! It’s the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; the vindication of all his claims to be the Son of God; the day our record of debt was forever destroyed and our salvation sealed.
Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter, and it makes the Easter celebration so much sweeter! Why? Because Lent is about reflection; it’s about repentance. It's about remembering and confessing our sin - the sin that put Jesus on the cross. Maybe you’ve known someone who “gave up” something for Lent. For 40 days, that person made a choice not to eat or do something that would be part of his or her normal routine. It could have been chocolate or red meat. Maybe it was Facebook. And for most people who observe Lent, it’s simply that, giving something up. But what if we reframed it. Shifted it. Remixed it.
What if instead of designating something to give up, you decided to trade in? What if your trade meant that you were able to focus on something Jesus focused on— like other people? Regardless of whether Lent is something you’ve ever practiced before, or whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it, you can reframe Lent so that instead of taking something away, you’re trading one thing in for something better.
What trade will you make over the next 40 days? If you’re a parent…what if you traded in your phone each day at 5pm and spent more time being present with your family. Maybe you even throw in some Bible reading or a story time to put the focus on Jesus! Or maybe you trade in TV/Netflix at night for game time with the kids. Or you could trade in your lunch break at work for time to pray for your family, write notes of encouragement, plan conversations for that evening. Maybe you could challenge your kids to make a trade as well! They could trade in their phones for family time. They could trade their earbuds in the car for more family conversation. They could trade in 15 minutes of sleep in the morning to read the Bible and pray before school.
Trade the escapes, the substitutes, the distractions in your life for the relationships in your life. Make a beautiful trade—one thing for something better. And keep this in mind: these 40 days before Easter are reminding us of the extent of God’s love. He showed us how far he was willing to go when he sent his son to a brutal death on a cross. We come to know God in a personal way when we make the best trade of all time – our sin for Jesus’ righteousness; our ugliness for his purity.
Now that’s a beautiful trade. PS - If you're looking for devotional reading material to enhance your lenten season, here are a couple of links to some free resources:
Revised Common Lectionary from Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy: Morning and Evening Meditations for Holy Week
People of 2RC, Lent Me Your Ears