"Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4
If you're new to the liturgical calendar, the season of Lent can seem downright odd. Black smudges on the head, fasting, washing feet, deep prayers of sorrow. What does all of it mean?
Lent is a time of preparation for the coming of Easter. It's a time of reflection and self-examination. During Lent, people often choose to give up something or to volunteer and give themselves to others. I have long believed that Lent is like a hard piece of candy, when first in the mouth the outside shell is brittle and uncomfortable, but once you get past the first layers you soon discover the incredible sweetness beneath the surface.
The season of Lent is profoundly Biblical because it's rooted in our need to constantly remind ourselves to come back to God - the Biblical word for this is repentance. As one of our prayers so aptly says, "We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts." Our repentance is the hardness and God's restoration is the sweetness.
Lent is a deeply meaningful time as individuals and as a community, ancient practices helping us reorder our lives while looking forward to Easter morning!