Well, it's that time again. That's right: Lent. In my realm of life, all people observe Lent. I think in real life, though, most people aren't really sure what it means. At Calvary, where I work and worship, we "do Lent" pretty intensely. Every day during Lent, we have the Lenten Preaching Series and the Waffle Shop (more on that later). For the Lenten Preaching Series (hereafter referred to as LPS), we bring in preachers from all over the country (and sometimes all over the world) who are renowned for their A: preaching dynamism, B: authorship of inspiring books , or C: their activism in their community. Every preacher tells their story, in an effort to encourage those who listen to live an authentic life, full of the spirit, acting on love for God and others. It's my favorite time to work at Calvary, because people come from all over the city, hoping to hear a good message and worship in a new place with new friends. The speakers are fantastic, and they range from the top Jesus scholar in the world, Marcus Borg, to Memphis' favorite Jew, Rabbi Greenstein, to dynamic leader of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, Frank Thomas. Last year, I blogged about my reflections after my first year of being able to go to LPS everyday.
I love Lent. Not because it's almost Easter, or because there are always fun people in our building everyday, or because I get to meet some really famous people. Some reasons I love Lent:
1. I love the relief of an excuse to make room for God. I know I should make room for God every day, but Lent really provides a way to practice, and it helps me that everyone else is doing it. It occurs in community, and I'm held accountable.
2. Getting to read Henri Nouwen's Lent and Easter Devotions. Nouwen is one of my favorite authors, and is somehow able to speak to my heart AND my mind. If you get your hands on anything by him, read it, I can guarantee it'll be for your own benefit.
3. To me, Lent=learning. And God knows I love to learn. I love to learn about God, myself, others, and how we all work together. I love getting to hear new perspectives on relationships, both earthly and divine. My head is filled with important thoughts, and some tough ideas to work through for myself...with other people.
4. For awhile now, I've been into discovering the humanity of Jesus. The 40 days of Lent is representative of when Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the desert. I can't imagine what Jesus went through, but it helps to know that Jesus was actually tempted. Like me and you.
5. I like using what I learn to try and teach the young people how to prepare their hearts for the mystery of Easter, and just how important it is. Lent means something different to everyone. That's the beauty of it. It's a smaller picture of how everyone's faith looks different.
6. In my head, this is what the road from Lent to Easter looks like. The funny thing is, it actually takes the same amount of time from this:
To turn into this:
Can you believe that these two photos were taken of the same tree?
I love Lent-all of the challenges, surprises, and education that God seems to pour into it. Or maybe God's always doing that, I'm just paying more attention.