Every now and then someone will ask me why a Baptist church uses the language of Lent. It’s a good question, and one that you’re probably familiar with if you’ve been involved with Emmanuel or another similar Baptist congregation.
We observe the season of Lent for the same reason we observe Advent, and to some extent, for the same reasons we celebrate Christmas and Easter. These seasons help establish a rhythm for our lives – a rhythm of patterning our days after the life of Christ.
I didn’t really know a thing about Lent until I was involved with a Baptist congregation in seminary. During those four years, I realized that my Easter celebration had been missing something.
I had come from a congregation that had no time of leading up to and really preparing for Easter. Everyone just showed up to church on Sunday in our new spring clothes, and the next thing we knew, Jesus was crucified and resurrected on the spot.
My experience with the season of Lent has helped reclaim Easter’s joy in my life. It has also made me more honest about faith. Life is not one long line of happy celebrations. Real life has plenty of dark shadows.
During this season we are considering some of those shadows – temptation, loneliness, sin, death. And my hope is that, through our honest reflection, we encounter again the grace of Christ in redeeming even the darkest corners.
And when we finally arrive at Easter, the day will mean so much more to us because we will know it as much more than a moment in history. We will know it as the reality of each day.