In-Sight: The Purpose of Lent

As we draw near to Holy Week, I have been using insights from a homily I read recently to think about the purpose of Lent.  Each year, we go on this lengthy journey.  Why?

The homily put it starkly:  to make us feel guilty.

Whew!  That’s a blow to our ego—a poke in the eye to our false self.

And that’s the point.  We need an extended period of time to get one thing straight:  God is God, and I am not!  The false self marshalls defenses against this idea (e.g. false comparisons, illusions, forgetfulness), so we have 40 days to allow the Spirit to set the record straight.

It is summed up in one word: repent.  Metanoia—change our way of thinking—open ourselves to a new way of looking at life and where we fit into it.

When we do this (repenting), we find ourselves on the porch of God’s house (an image given to us by John Wesley), and we are met there by LOVE.

Lent is not the story of God’s reluctance to love us.  It is the story of our reluctance to think we need God’s love.  Lent gives us 40 days each year to get on the porch of God’s house and let God love us!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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