by Cynthia Campbell
Observing Lent: Having something to look forward to is one of the most important parts of life. Counting down the days before Christmas or a big vacation is almost as important (and as pleas- urable) as the event itself. Just think what getting married or having a baby would be like with- out months of anticipation and preparation! I doubt that either celebration would be as significant without all the hopes and dreams we invest in the process of anticipation.
Just as Advent is the season in which we prepare for the birth of Jesus, so Lent is the season in which we prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus. For many of us, especially if we were raised in the Pres- byterian tradition, this is something fairly new. If we were not raised in a community where fasting and spe- cial prayer services were central to church life every spring, we may find it hard to take these practices on by ourselves. I find that I may start off the season of Lent with good intentions to take on a new routine of prayer or reading the Bible, but then life intervenes and I get off track. Without external reinforcement, it’s hard to stay focused.
But that is my goal this year: to stay focused for the season of Lent, because that is the point of this time in our church’s year. The idea is to focus on the meaning of Christ’s “passion” – his death and resurrec- tion – for us and for the world. There is a reason we all memorize John 3:16 because it captures this so well: “God loved the world so much that God gave God’s own self in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.” And trust- ing (a better translation than “believing”) this – trusting in the literally boundless love of God for us and for the entire world – is what leads to abundant living.
Our mission statement says that our purpose as a faith community is to “share hope from the heart of the Highlands.” The reason we are hopeful is not because we are positive, sunny, optimistic people. The only reason to be hopeful is God’s deep and abiding love, God’s compassion, God’s mercy. Easter is when that love is most on display. The days of Lent are our opportunity to focus on that love so that it can transform us into the people God longs for us to be.