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Recently, a new Anglican told me, “I am so scared of Lent.” This kind of fear is not unusual. I remember feeling something similar during my first Lenten experience.
Lent is neither a punishment nor an attempt to earn our salvation through 'works righteousness.' Rather, Lent is a season dedicated to what St. Paul calls “the mortification of the flesh” (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).
In Romans, St. Paul explains that through our Holy Baptism, the Old Adam in us has been crucified with Christ. Although defeated, the vestiges of our old life of sin—what St. Paul calls ‘the flesh’—are still at work in us. Lest we be discouraged, St. Paul writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). This renewal is not something we do, but rather something the Holy Spirit does in us.
We can, however, ‘quench the spirit’ by resisting His sanctifying work and returning to the old life of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:19-25). Think of Lent as a church-wide spiritual tune-up focused on a simple question: how am I quenching the Holy Spirit in my life?
Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving are all tools that can help us identify where the Old Adam is still at work in us. The beauty of Lent is that Jesus is present with us as we ‘mortify the flesh’—in Holy Scripture, in the Sacraments, and in one another.
My prayer for Christ Church this Lent is that our Lord Jesus would graciously convict each one of us of our sin, calling us deeper into a more beautiful repentance.
The Rev. Bryan BibaAssociate Rector, Adult Discipleship
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