“The Ins and Outs of Lent”

It’s March and depending on how you look at it, spring is either here or just around the corner. If you are a weather aficionado, someone who loves to pore over the maps meteorologists produce showing the high and low pressure systems coming our way, then you know that spring is here. March 1 is the start of meteorological spring. On the other hand, if you go by the astronomical calendar which looks at the rotation of the earth around the sun, you’ve got until March 21, the day the sun runs parallel to the earth’s equator, before you can say spring has sprung. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take spring as soon as I can get it—give me the meteorological calendar anytime.

Either way you look at it, March can be a month of extremes. We could have snow, or temperatures in the 80s. The old-timers tale about March comes to mind: “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” I found this poem by Lorie Hill that expresses these extremes:

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

March roars in

like a lion so fierce,

the wind so cold,

it seems to pierce.

The month rolls on

and Spring draws near,

and March goes out

like a lamb so dear.[1]

These “ins and outs” associated with the month of March made me think about Lent. According to the church calendar, Lent covers most or all of the month of March. (It all depends on when Easter falls, which depends on when Passover takes place). For Christians, Lent is a season of reflection. We are to think more deeply about our relationship with God, about our shortcomings and our mortality—“you are dust, and to dust you shall return”—and about the God who gives us life through Jesus Christ. We reflect on the Passion, the pain and suffering Jesus endured for us. And if we do that in a meaningful way, we are humbled by what God did for us so that we can have an abundant life.

Like the month of March, the season of Lent begins with lions on the prowl.

  • At the start of his ministry, Jesus is baptized, then the Spirit drives him out into the wilderness to face a time of testing by Satan and the harsh desert environment. (Mark 1:9-15)
  • Jesus speaks harsh words to Peter—“Get behind me, Satan!”—when the well-intentioned fisherman rebukes Jesus for saying the Son of Man must suffer and die in Jerusalem. (Mark 8:31-38)
  • In the Temple courtyard, Jesus cracks the whip, literally, and tosses tables to chase away the animals and moneychangers who have dishonored the house of God. (John 2:13-22)

image001With all this temptation and trial, confrontation and conflict, you’d think the lions would come out on top. Not so. In the end, the Lamb of God emerges, broken by the lions of Rome, and lays down his life for a broken humanity.

So as you think about Lent remember that it comes in like a lion all right, but it goes out with the Lamb of God rising on Easter Day.

Join us on April 1 to celebrate our Risen Savior!

Pastor Bob

[1] Lorie Hill, “In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb,” Scrapbook.com, https://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/694.html.