Anyone accidentally discover he or she was completely unprepared for Valentine’s Day Thursday? You sure cannot blame the retailers. They have been reminding you to prepare ever since New Year’s Day.
Have you ever shown up at Christmas or a birthday party without a gift? I am sure you had time to prepare, but just did not focus your attention on what was coming. Those awkward moments must have really diminished your enjoyment of those events. Preparing really helps.
In April, the whole Christian church worldwide will celebrate the victory of Jesus over sin, death and the devil at His Easter resurrection. For several thousand years your fellow Christians have decided that the celebration of Easter deserves to be prepared for just like Valentine’s Day or Christmas.
That time of preparation is called Lent.
Maybe that makes sense, but the retailers sure are not helping you prepare. Where are the Lenten Sales? Any big racks of Lenten candy or goofy $8.00 Lenten greeting cards? Preparing during Lent is tougher. Tougher because it is not a purchase and wrap type of preparation. It is preparation of the mind. And of the heart. And of the attitude.
The intent of our ancestors was to spend time before the woo hoo of Christ’s Easter victory reflecting on why Jesus ended up crowned with thorns and striped with bloody slash marks in the first place. People benefit from recognizing the reality that each person’s sin put Jesus on the cross. Every harsh word. Every lie, white or otherwise. Every slander. Every revenge. Every lust. Every theft. Every bending of a law or rule to fulfill a desire. Every sin put Jesus on the cross.
Lent leads us to think about this. And Lent leads us to recognize our inability to escape the cycle of repeated sin. Finally, Lent leads us to turn toward Jesus on the cross, Jesus in the grave, and Jesus resurrected as our only hope.
Too much for kids? Too heavy? Too much focus on unpleasant things? You know, over the years we have discovered that children actually take this time of preparation pretty seriously. Especially if it is talked about at home, as well.
Now, do not worry, we will not stop having fun. And we will not serve a hot lunch menu exclusively of tofu turkey, tender kale, and bean burritos. I am sure corn dogs will make and appearance or two.
But we will continue to remember that our sins are already forgiven by the blood of Jesus. We will be a little more reflective. A little more thoughtful. And, hopefully, a little more prepared.
In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd