You can never step in the same river twice because the waters never stop flowing. The seasons of the Church year are very much like that. Lent 2019 is radically different from Lent 2018. And you’ll never have this Lent again in the future.
Every first Sunday of Lent begins in the same place – the desert or wilderness where Jesus is tempted, just like us. We know where Lent ends, in Jerusalem, jail, scourging, mockery, crucifixion and a tomb. We can walk that way from here to Good Friday with our eyes closed – and we do.
This Lent, however, something is new. You are not the same person you were in Lent 2018. Make a quick inventory of what has changed: births, deaths, moves, goals, and health. There have been areas of growth and areas of contractions of mind, heart soul, bank account, and options. There have been times when you have won and also times when you have failed. You have served and you have sinned. Lent 2019 is where you never have been before. The path is not the same, nor is the person walking it.
Paul tells the Romans and us “The word is near you.” How close? As close as Moses and the Hebrews to the brink of the Promised Land, full of lands overflowing with good things, to dreams almost fulfilled. They would also face and be tempted by false gods.
“The word is near you.” How near? As close as Christ to the devil. Christ has to choose and so do we. The Adversary offers creature comforts that are guaranteed. Christ chooses insecurity and dispossession. The devil holds out control. Christ surrenders His life and spirit to His Father, accepting the cup which doesn’t pass away. The Evil One offers glory and popularity. But Christ chooses being the servant of all, the Suffering Servant that frees the world from sin and death. The devil says be your own god. Christ embraces His humanity and the Cross.
“The word is near you.” So is the Adversary, in ways you have not experienced before. What are the temptations in this season of your life? To seek personal ambition over the common good? To surrender and compromise to a culture that is increasingly divorced from God? To surrender to hopelessness? To be unfaithful to your responsibilities to God and others? To coast and not grow. To shrink and protect yourself?
What will you choose for this Lent? This year the challenges are new and so are you.