And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (ESV)
For some people, Lent, like the rest of what Christianity offers, seems out of touch with reality. For some Christians it seems out of touch with theology. And besides this, aren’t we overcome with our fears of Coronavirus? If that doesn’t get us, maybe it will be cancer, or an accident, or, as some sarcastically suggest, a fatal paralysis brought on by overexposure to cable TV’s coverage of the election. So, what does Lent have to do with anything in 2020? What good is it? Aren’t authentic, modern believers past all such quirky, churchy traditions? Even if some “nominal” believers in that “other denomination” give up chocolate, wine, or Netflix for Lent, why does it matter?
It doesn’t. That’s the point. The first point of this season we call Lent is that little of we think matters really matters at all. You are going to die anyway, so you can stop hiding under your desk. Something will kill you. You are a day closer to it happening. Also, most of the things that you are working to the point of exhaustion to maintain, like your health or your bank account, will be drained down to nothing, certainly well before the end of the century. Whatever you have you will lose. That’s not negative thinking, that’s Lent. It’s a rehearsal or a renewal of the process of learning what you have when you lose everything. It is designed to bring you face-to-face with Christ. Fasting is like Lent in a bottle, available anytime of the year to anyone who is willing. Every need we feel acutely, like hunger, is an illustration of our primary need for Christ. When we let physical hunger remind us that we are spiritually hungry, we move toward wholeness and holiness as human beings.
For the 40 days (not counting the Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to the eve of Easter Sunday, we are called to stop… again… to face the fact that everything in our lives will stop soon enough. Are you really living your life? Let Lent show you the ways you are not. Let Lent show you what doesn’t matter. Let Lent pave the way in your heart and mind for a full, fresh view of the Crucified and Resurrected Christ.
Last of all, Lent is private. It is between you and God. Something needs to be.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV)