Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sacrament by Matthew Whitney
Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season, leading up to Holy Week and Easter. The first time I gave any thought to Lent was my freshman year of college. I had only recently begun to take my faith seriously and was looking forward to celebrating Lent for the first time as a follower of Jesus. But first I wanted to learn more about what it is and why we observe it as Christians, so I did what seemed reasonable: looked up the word "Lent" in the concordance at the back of my Bible. What?! Lent is not mentioned in the Bible? Hmm. If something is not in the Bible, where is the next best place to look? The internet, of course. So that was how I got my first introduction to the idea of liturgical calendars and seasons -- some random website (this was in the dark ages before Wikipedia).
I wish I could say that ever since that day, the liturgical calendar played an important role in my life, but it wasn't really until about two years ago that it re-emerged as an integral part of the way I follow Jesus. As my friend Brian put it, "I think it is impossible for anyone to experience Easter without first experiencing Good Friday." So once again, as I did my freshman year, I look forward to this season. I want to follow Jesus on the road toward Jerusalem, toward the cross. It will be dark and brutal at times, but it will drive me toward a deeper understanding of my utter need, my poverty of spirit, my broken humanity... and on from there, into a new gratitude for His grace, His mercy, His victory.