Worship Whys – Lent
For the people of the gospel, worship during this season of Lent in which we are now engaged may seem to go against the grain of our focus on the proclamation of “good news”.
Even though every Sunday of the year can be considered as a “little Easter” worthy of celebration, most of the Lenten traditions tend to dampen our sense of joy. The suggested scripture readings begin with the temptation of Christ in the wilderness and end with the scenes of the betrayal and torture and crucifixion of Jesus. The colors and music used in services are somber, and visual symbols of thorny crowns, nails, and rough crosses are often included.. For the forty days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week, we are also encouraged to take a hard look at our individual lives, and to improve our spiritual disciplines, perhaps by various fasting or other sacrifice.
All these things create enough of a difference in what is the more usual, hopeful attitude of a Christian, that those outside the church might exclaim, “For the love of God, why would you do these things to yourselves? Why would you worship like this?”
It is indeed only “for the love of God” that we would even ever consider it.
We only ever endure uncomfortable situations, attempt the hard tests, and purposely set out on the difficult journey because of love. And in the season of Lent it is our love of Christ that motivates us to face the tough challenge of walking the way of the cross, and harder still, acknowledge that we are not blameless for what occurred on Calvary’s hill. But we are also helped along our ways by the sure knowledge of the saving grace that was offered there.
There are other reasons for us to consider entering wholeheartedly into this hard season. We will “grow” our faith through our experiences. Spiritual writer and poet Scott Cairns notes in his book The End of Suffering, that “the hard way is pretty much the only way most of us ever manage to learn anything.”
Too, at the end of this “learning” time, having traveled with Jesus through his last dark days on this earth, our joy will be increased with the victory of Easter, and our celebrations will be magnified.
~ Susan H