I cannot believe that it is already February. That means Lent is coming. My amazing daughter (my son is amazing too) just celebrated her fifteenth birthday. She asked for a skateboard. I researched skateboards because I have not been on one since I was a kid. I found one I thought would be good and she was excited. A strange thing happened during my research. I started reminiscing about my time on a skateboard as a kid and how I never was able to master the Ollie (that is a little jump for those unfamiliar). I can vividly remember skating with the cool kids as they popped Ollies and I can vividly remember not being able to do it. I quit skateboarding pretty soon after not mastering that trick.
This wild time we are all currently experiencing has left me pondering life perhaps too much. When my daughter’s skateboard arrived and after she got to check it out, I decided to show her how it works. Let me tell you even on the carpet, I nearly fell from just trying to stand on it. I felt very old as we all laughed. It is not lost on me that February also means that I will get a year older. I will be 44 this year. For some, that seems like a child. For others, I seem pretty old. For me on that skateboard in our living room waving my hands like a madman, I felt very old. That night after dinner and a birthday cake I spent some time reflecting.
Lent is coming and will be here on Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 17 this year. In the Church, Lent is a time of reflection and preparation for Easter. We mark ourselves with ashes to remember our mortality and to begin reflecting and repenting in preparation for celebrating the resurrection at Easter. Let me tell you that I definitely felt my mortality on my daughter’s skateboard! I also thought about how I gave up so long ago.
Lent does not receive the fanfare of Advent, Christmas, and Easter, but it is vitally important. If we never reflect and honestly admit our failures, we cannot grow. If we never confess our sin, we cannot be forgiven. If we never repent, we cannot really follow Jesus. Lent is not a time to beat ourselves up, but a time to admit we are mortal, fallible sinners in need of redemption. The joy of Lent is the realization that we are forgiven and capable of change because of the grace of God. We should do that every day, but Lent reminds us and allows us to focus our efforts.
I have made two decisions for myself this year. First (just for fun), I have ordered a skateboard for my birthday. I am going to master my Ollie and redeem myself for quitting. Secondly and much more importantly, I am going to spend time thinking about how I have sinned. I am going to spend time thinking about who I need to forgive. I am going to spend time asking forgiveness from God and others. I am not quitting this journey of following Jesus and I want to make my faith the priority all the time. My hope and assurance is that in these practices of reflecting and repenting I will again encounter the living God who is beckoning us all toward the Kingdom of God.
I want to invite you to join together with Christians all over the world and across time in making Lent a meaningful time of growth. Let us face our mortality and our sin so that we can experience the forgiveness and grace of God as we grow in our Lord’s likeness.
PS. If you see me around town on a skateboard, say a prayer and try not to laugh.
In the midst of a mini-midlife crisis and longing to grow in faith,