“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.” – Romans 12:9-21 (MSG)
I love that Lent begins on Valentine’s Day this year. It makes it a bit challenging for those giving up chocolate for Lent, I suppose, but it’s appropriate, nonetheless.
At the heart of it, the reflection and repentance, the recommitment and renewal that characterize the season of Lent are a call to love.
To receive the love that tells us the truth about ourselves – that we are beloved children of God – and to let that truth seep deeper into our souls, allowing it to guide us and define us and shape us more than we have let it before.
To recognize the barriers we have put up to loving others and to commit to the hard work of taking them down.
Jesus’ journey to the cross was a journey of love. A sacrificial love that we cannot fathom, but still are called to follow.
I’ve chosen a word to guide my Lenten reflection this year – Relent.
Relent comes from the Latin, ‘lentus,’ which means “to slow down or soften.” According to vocabulary.com, the original meaning most likely had to do with the heart, as in “to stop resisting love.”
Two timely and kingdom-worthy goals.
In the face of a relentless to do list that gains three tasks for every two crossed off, how will I RE:Lent and slow down and make room for a love that is all about who and whose I am, not what I do?
In the relentless barrage of sharp and polarizing words that seem to be hardening our collective soul, how will I RE:Lent and keep my heart soft and be to those around me a healer and bearer of God’s peace?
In a world where we can yell “Hosanna!” in one breath and “Crucify him!” in the next, where the need is relentless and the certainties are few, how will I RE:Lent and risk the costly, vulnerable choice of loving those who may not love me back?
To follow Jesus is to RE:Lent in a relentless world.
My prayer is that we will see and hear and obey as God teaches us how to do just that during this season of Lent, that these 40 days may be a time of transformation and hope, renewal and restoration.
Other columns on Ash Wednesday: