I love Christmas. I count the days until Christmas 365 days a year. Today there are 310 days until Christmas (share the JOY!) To ensure my daughters learned the true reason for Christmas, I started celebrating advent and we read Scripture every night from December 1-December 31.
But Easter was limited to our church service and a family dinner. I wanted to make Easter as special and focused as Christmas, but I never managed to do that.
I shied away from the idea of Lent. Lent wasn’t part of my Methodist or Baptist tradition. What I knew about Lent was that my Catholic friends and cousins gave up something–candy or all sweets or something the weeks leading up to Easter. I didn’t know why. The extent of my Easter celebration was three days: Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. “Singing Up from the Grave He Arose” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
But the longing to spend more time seriously focused on the reason for my faith and hope kept growing. A few years ago, I decided to make a more deliberate practice of preparing for Easter the way I prepared for Christmas. I bought books and tried to read passages about Lent. I purchased Ann Voskamp’s wreath and promised myself I’d read something each day and light one of the candles, move the wooden Jesus carrying His cross to help me remember all He gave to me. But putting all of this together by myself proved difficult. I did think more about Christ and prepared my heart more for the celebration of Easter, but I did not manage the focus and worship of Easter.
This year, I read about She Reads Truth, an online community of women who are committed to reading God’s Word together (shereadstruth.com). They encourage women to read, memorize, and live God’s Word. And they have materials to help me fill that void of what to do to be more focused during this Lenten season.
From the introduction of their book, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, I find what I’ve longed for: “…come to the Cross and grasp the weight of our sin and the wealth of His salvation…
We will RETURN, kneeling daily at the cross of our Lord.
We will REPENT, mourning the depth and reality of our sin.
We will REMEMBER, tracing the path of Christ on His journey to the Cross.
…let’s put into practice these instructions from 18th century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne: ‘For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely.'”
And He loves me. Enough to come and rescue me. To give everything for me. He is worthy of my devotion.
Lent: to return, to repent, to remember.
To worship. May He be glorified.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)