Written by Carol Beaver, Church Advocate, Legacy Coalition
In most parts of our beautiful land, March is a turning point. Even if we are tired of snow, gray skies, chilly rain, or lack of light, we welcome March because it brings spring.
We may experience the changes of spring at different times depending on where we live, but we look forward to each new springtime event with eager anticipation.
A little research discovered average spring temperatures across our country vary significantly in this month of change. Not surprisingly, Florida and Hawaii are the two warmest states, while Maine and Alaska are the coldest for the period. My current state, Georgia, ranks as the sixth warmest, and my home state of Minnesota ranks 45th.
Whether the changes come swiftly or seem to drag on into another month, we welcome the brighter skies and softer breezes. Early spring flowers like daffodils show off against the greening grass. Here in Georgia, Redbuds bloom bright against the blue sky.
Depending on where we live, we may still experience cold and snowy days, but every blade of grass and flowering tree reminds us that spring is indeed coming. Gradually, the temperature averages slide up.
Sometimes we feel lighter and brighter just because spring is coming. We can smell it in the air.
It’s a time to delight in the beautiful creation and its creator. Hope surrounds us, especially when we remember that March also provides the beginning of the Easter season, which this year starts on March 2.
Some church traditions observe Lent as a time of reflection and penitence leading to Easter.
I remember being bewildered by friends who gave up something for Lent. To me, it was silly to give up a specific kind of candy bar or food treat for six weeks.
Neither they nor I were well versed in the reasoning behind the practice. Before Jesus’ last days on earth, he removed himself from the disciples and went out to the wilderness to fast and pray before His time would come.
He went without food for 40 days and nights. He prayed continually, knowing He would fight a fierce spiritual battle before He would take up the cross. Though weakened in body, His spirit and soul were ready to take on the devil himself.
An interesting aside comes in the 40 day time period. The Flood lasted 40 days, the Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land, and Moses fasted 40 days before he received the 10 Commandments.
Even as Jesus prepared Himself for the battle with Satan, we could be like Christians of old and consider taking some time to renew, refresh and prepare our souls for this sacred time of year when Jesus’ extreme sacrifice stands front and center.
We might ask ourselves how to thoughtfully prepare for experiencing this preparation part of the Easter story, so we genuinely ponder and become more aware of the immensity of His gift to us. Our ruminations can consider how we can share with our grandchildren the beautiful but complex story of God’s great gift to humanity – His Son.
Perhaps the time of Lent would be a good time for personal study and reflection about Jesus’ words and His great sacrifice. Many churches provide specific Lenten devotionals or scripture guides. Lenten and Easter studies and devotionals for adults and children are available from Christian booksellers.
Jesus made the most profound sacrifice that could be imagined. The idea of purposefully giving up something significant for a few weeks may seem strange, but thoughtfully done could have a profound impact.
The family or individuals could decide to give up an activity, a TV show, a meal, a special treat, a cell phone, or any other treasure that would make each person stop and think how small that is compared to Jesus’ sacrifice.
Another traditional action of Lent is penance or repentance.
What if this Lenten/Easter season one grandparent, or son, or daughter humbled themselves and reconciled with a family member. That’s what Jesus did. How pleased He would be!! He died to provide a reconciliation between God and man.
Giving alms to the poor was also a part of Lenten tradition. Consider finding a charity that serves the poor or homeless and donate needed items, money, or your time. Involve the whole family, including parents and grandparents. What you give becomes your own sacrifice of praise.
Make these 40 days a time of personal and family reflection, which honors our loving, sacrificing Savior. Some of us made resolutions in January, and they are sitting out there undone, or we’ve given up. Pick it up and try again.
Make this March a time to reflect on how you and your whole family, young or old, near or far, can honor our precious Savior in word and deed.