This February we will enter into the Season of Lent. Lent is a season of 40 days – not counting Sundays – that leads us to Easter Day.
Easter is the most joyous and celebratory time of the Christian year; but Lent has a different focus than Easter. During Lent, the church is called to become spiritually ready for Easter. Historically, these 40 days of preparation have included Christian training for converts to the faith, and even fasting while church members seek to concentrate all of their attention on God. More recently, many people have been in churches where everyone “gives something up” for Lent, whether it be candy, a habit, or something else they consider bad for them. At their heart, each of these practices is about spiritual preparation: they are ways to help our Spirit grow closer to God.
This Lent we are going to pay close attention to the spiritual path of Jesus. We will study the gospel of Luke, but not just to see what Jesus says and does on the surface, but to go on the deep spiritual journey he calls us to. You see, the life of Christ is not simply something to be imitated by word or deed—anyone can pretend to be like Jesus. Truly following Christ puts us on a spiritual path that awakens our souls, and beckons us to live a life filled with Worship, Study, Service, Simplicity, and Prayer. This path Jesus walked got him into trouble with both religious and secular authorities, and, ultimately, led him to the cross, where he was crucified like a common criminal for the “crimes” he committed.
While we follow Jesus on this path, we will discover there were many people around him who did not understand the spiritual path he was on. Not only did many religious leaders resent him for it, but even his own disciples struggled to follow. I believe these struggles continue to this day. In fact, I believe we, like Christ’s disciples and opponents, often look only superficially at the things Jesus did. So this Lent we are going to look more deeply at the path of Jesus. We will try to understand the “crimes” he committed, as well as the spiritual journey that led to those “crimes.” We will also look at ourselves, to ask whether or not we are willing to commit those same “crimes,” and follow Jesus even when it gets us into trouble. I look forward to going on this spiritual journey with you, while we worship in spirit and in truth, and learn about The Crimes of Jesus.