We’re in the Christian season of lent right now. Lent is the 40 day period of fasting, before Easter. While Easter is the great center – the highest feast of the Christian calendar – our annual celebration of Jesus’ eternal victory over death – the 40 days of lent are intended to remind us of our mortality. We are all sinful and broken. We are called to repent. Repent means to turn away from our sins and to open our minds to God’s words and God’s ways. To turn our lives toward God.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. On that day, someone smears ashes on our foreheads and tells us, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Good News.”
At the end of the Ash Wednesday service I attended at my church here in South Korea, an announcement was made, “Because of the coronavirus, this will be the last time we will meet together for a while.”
That was sobering. I didn’t like it. I complained. Even our season of mournful prayer and fasting would be different this year.
It’s been five weeks. Lent is nearly over. We have not returned to worship together at our church. Spending a lot of time at home, forced to slow down, and unable to worship corporately in the ways I’ve grown accustomed to, Lent has been especially poignant for me this year.
Now, the whole world is experiencing physical distancing. All of us are slowing down as we approach Holy Week, the most important days in the Christian tradition. Each of us, all around the world, are being bombarded with messages reminding us of our mortality. It’s like we are all hearing the invitation of lent repeatedly and in surround sound:
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Repent and believe the Good News.”
Will we individually and collectively repent?
Will we turn to God in the midst of all of this?
What are we turning from?
Who are we turning to?
And, what is this Good News we are invited to believe?
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Hint on the Good News: Good Friday and Easter Sunday are on the way…!