Lent is fast approaching. Ash Wednesday is March 6, and is one of the favorite traditions at Zion. We call Lent a season of preparation, which leads up to our Easter celebration. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days (Sundays are not counted). Lent ends on the Saturday before Easter. The 40 days are a reminder to us of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the Wilderness and the 40 days that Jesus fasted and was tempted in the desert. Our preparation involves self-reflection and self-examination. The tradition of “giving something up for Lent” points back to all that Jesus resisted and the food that Jesus “gave up” during his time in the desert. Lent is sometimes called a season of repentance. It is a time to look at our lives and to identify those things that need changing. Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent because Sundays are always a celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.
Easter comes late this year, April 21st. In 2016, Easter was early, March 27th. Christmas is always December 25th but, Easter moves each year. The date for Easter is always the first Sunday following the first full moon of the Spring Equinox (March 21). Easter can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.
So, now we know what Lent and Easter is all about, right? Well, not exactly. The date of Ash Wednesday is mostly inconsequential. The exact Sunday Easter falls on really doesn’t matter to the meaning of Easter. What really matters about Easter is that:
“You have been saved by grace through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2: 8, 9
Easter is really about a savior! There is only one who can wash away our sins. There is only one who died on the cross for you and me. There is only one who can forgive us in heaven’s records. There is only one. With the savior, there is no more striving on my own to find God’s favor. No more attempts to make myself good enough for God. No more games making other people think I am religious. No more trying to be religious. No more running. No more hiding. No more faking it. We don’t have to, we have a savior!
We have been forgiven in Christ. What Christ, the savior, has done is enough. His death is our death. His descent into hell is our ultimate alienation from God. His resurrection is our resurrection. Jesus has done for us that which we could not do for ourselves. By the grace of God we are made righteous. Because of God’s love we are no longer alienated from God but friends. In baptism the promise of the savior comes to us in the water; “You are Mine.” In communion the promise of the savior comes in the bread and wine; “I am yours.”
So during Lent, take time to thank Jesus. Take time to worship Him. Take time to tell someone else about how the Savoir has saved you.