Lent is a time to speak, hear, and live the truth. I mean the truth about who we are and who God is. I suppose that we ought to be doing that all the time, but, I think, they only way to make that happen is to take some special time to concentrate our attention on the truth about us and God.
The truth about us is that we are wonderfully formed and deeply loved, but also tragically and, sometimes, intentionally nasty to ourselves, our neighbors, the creation, and God. We call this last bit sin and it involves being determinedly self-centered in an unhealthy way. These are truths about us that we don’t want to acknowledge or admit. In fact, it takes an enormous amount of energy to hide this from ourselves and others. It can be exhausting. The only way to address this sin is to hear the truth about us, speak the truth about us – we call it the beginning of repentance – and then focus on the truth about God.
The truth about God is what gives us the courage to hear and speak the truth about ourselves. During Lent we watch Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem, where he will be arrested, suffer, and be killed. This is another thing to which it is hard to pay attention. It is sad. It is a little grisly. It is frustrating that no one seems to help Jesus. The deep truth, however, is that Jesus goes this way so that we might hear the truth of the deeply loved part of who we are. It shows us the limitless extent of God’s love, as God, in Jesus spends God’s life for us. That is a truth that redeems the truth about our nasty streak. Trusting that truth is the conclusion of repentance. Believing we are forgiven because of Jesus is the joy of repentance.
Living the truth helps us to pull the truth into us and invites it to stay. Ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday helps us live it. Living the truth involves serving all others and advocating for all others, because they also are deeply loved by God, even though they share our nasty streak. Taking extra time for prayer, devotions, weekday worship, and Bible reading helps us live the truth. It may even inspire us to live the truth all the time. Have a blessed Lent.