"Then He said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'" Luke 9:23
As anyone who has read my blog for very long knows, our family has been on a spiritual journey for several years. We first became familiar with Lent back in 2002. We had never practiced this in our former denomination, so it was very new to us. Honestly, I did not like the somber, minor key music very well. And boy, did I get tired of hearing about sin and repentance! We couldn't even say "Allelluia" for the entirety of Lent. What a downer! But I do have to say, when Holy Week came, and we celebrated Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and then...Easter...what a difference! I felt so much more ready to celebrate! My sins are forgiven because of the cross! I have victory because of the empty grave! Being able to say "Alleluia" again had even deeper meaning.
One of the things I like most about Lent (and there are many now) is Stations of the Cross. Every Friday, we have a time of remembering the Lord's progression from his betrayal, to the condemnation to die by Pilate, through each phase of Christ's journey to the cross...including His death and burial. It is powerful. Why? Because it is such a vivid reminder of the price of sin. My sin. Your sin. The world's sins. It is humbling to know that something we have done 2000 years later caused the suffering He endured. Yet He did endure, and willingly.
Yesterday, I watched a live broadcast of Pope Benedict XVI's Ash Wednesday Mass in Rome. This holy man, servant of God, allowing one of the cardinals to sprinkle the ashes on his head. The sign of repentance. A man who knows he has great responsibility and authority, yet knows he is a sinner just like the rest of us pilgrims. A humble man. A great leader because of his humility and acknowledgement of his need for repentance.
As we journey toward Easter, let us take every opportunity to allow God's Holy Spirit to do His work inside our hearts--examining, illuminating, convicting. And let us respond by repenting and allowing His grace to restore us and draw us ever closer to the Christ who died for us and rose again.
"Jesus, I believe that you are Lord! I choose to follow you and hold fast to you this Lent! Help me to be faithful to this choice in all that I do today."