As a Pentecostal, I am encouraged by hearing about more and more Pentecostals/Charismatics who actually observe Lent in some way. I also understand there are vast numbers who still don’t observe.
More problematic to me, however, are those who almost laugh off Lent and especially Good Friday. They claim some superiority of spirituality by saying righteous things like, “We don’t celebrate a Christ on a cross, we celebrate a risen Savior!” Like Easter is more superior to Good Friday, so just ignore Good Friday. Or, don’t get “so consumed” with it.
Sometimes we’re wary of traditions practiced by the Church that aren’t “in the Bible.”
Over the years I have grown to embrace more of the Church’s rhythm of the “calendar” and less and less of our civil calendar. The rhythms of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost are like bass line rhythms that bring me home. They keep the Kingdom priorities in focus.
The best reason I can give for the observation of Lent and Good Friday I just found from a man I deeply admire. He was married to a distant cousin of mine. They served Campus Crusade on college campuses in their early years of marriage and they both had a deep, abiding faith in God. My cousin Ann was someone I looked up to, even though we rarely saw each other at some family functions. When she met Howard and I met him at a family reunion, I knew this was an incredible man of God.
Ann battled cancer a few years ago. They had kids by then and the first go around looked hopeful. Things went into remission. Then, it returned with a vengeance and there was only time left. In those last months as they struggled and prayed and asked God for the miracle and then knew God had other plans, Howard blogged about his deepest feelings. He showed his raw emotions and his deep faith. He questioned God and clung to him all through the storm. Ann passed away on an Easter weekend a few years ago. She was 50, I believe.
I saw a quote from Howard’s book just this week that sums up why I personally will observe Lent and Good Friday as I eagerly anticipate Easter:
“To understand the true meaning of Easter, you really need to be in a cemetery.”
Howard knows the power of that statement first hand. All Christians really DO know the power of that statement, but Howard has another insight that is a gift from God.
Friends, don’t rush through the cemetery. Don’t rush through a time when you must look at the power of the WHOLE event of Easter. It’s not about a fixation on death. It is the practice of truly understanding the deepest power of resurrection.