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Week 3: Thursday

Lent Reflections

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The Discipline of Celebration

As we continue our journey through the season of Lent, our hearts often become heavier and heavier as our caffeine or sugar withdrawals heighten or our discipline is sharpened. We feel the weight of our need for a Savior and experience something similar to the dreariest of days during a Seattle winter: when the sun barely rises, the skies remain gray, and the rain continues to pour down.

However, we must also live out our faith as believers who have confidence in the grace of God and the coming of His return and look forward to the celebration of Easter. The Lenten season is a season of preparation, not of permanence.

Consider how Seattleites often feel when the sun comes out. Having survived the rainy days when the sun does peak out, we immediately rush outside no matter how cold it is, buy a new pair of sunglasses, and fire up the grill. We are eager to soak up every last drop of vitamin D because we have felt the cost of what it is to be without it. A familiar feeling to the celebrations on Easter morning after the depths of a true Lenten season.

The light is the brightest and most beautiful after the darkest of nights. The juxtaposition of hardship and discipline contrasts the celebration of grace and joy. The celebration of Jesus rising from the dead on Easter is magnified when seen in perspective with his torturous death just days before. Our celebration is magnified by our exploration of the dark places of our hearts that yearn in desire for light, for our Creator, for the lover of our souls. When we walk through the valleys of Lent, through fasting and turmoil of our sin, it brings our celebration to a greater degree. We can truly thank Jesus for grace as we understand our desperate need. We don’t have to search for joy and try to find it under a mossy log; joy finds us as we press into the transforming work of Jesus in us. It is not a contradiction to our struggles and darkest days; true joy is created from the wilderness seasons.

If we stay in our despair, we miss the purpose of Lent as we look toward as we prepare for Easter. What would it look like for you to choose to the spiritual discipline of celebration when you’d rather do anything but that? To not ignore the hurts in your life or the pains of stress and broken relationships but to hold them in tension with God’s ultimate goodness and perfection. Choosing to trust that God can make all things new, that He can change everything about you and your life when you surrender to Him. ┬áNo matter what is happening in our lives, these things are spiritually forming us. We choose whether it is forming us to be more like Jesus.

To practice the discipline of Celebration, try one of these things this week:

  • Begin to plan your Easter celebration. Allow it to be far more exuberant than if you were to measure the gravity of your Lenten season.
  • In Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, he reminds us that Jesus entered the world “with tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10) and left it “bequeathing his joy to the disciples: ‘These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full (John 15:11)” (pg. 190). How is your day or your week bookended with joy?
  • Consider 2 Samuel 6:21-22. David makes himself undignified in his celebration of God’s work. How could you celebrate God’s work in your life in the same way this Easter?
  • Sundays can be considered as ‘little Easters’ throughout the year (which is why they’re often not considered in the counting of days included in Lent). How could this Sunday be a ‘little Easter’ for you?
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