We are halfway into the season of Lent, which means there are just three weeks left until Easter. And though the countdown to Easter isn’t always as nostalgic and riddled with sales as the countdown to Christmas is, the opportunity to mark the time is no less important. Just as in Advent, Lent is a time of preparation, an invitation to mark the life of Jesus with intention and purposefulness. We’re again invited to prepare Him room in our hearts. And just like Advent, the time is going to pass whether we prepare our hearts or not; the holiday will come and go and we will only be as impacted as we make efforts to be.
This Easter, there will be fewer picnics, fewer Easter egg hunts, fewer springtime celebrations to look forward to. Even as the SF Bay Area counties move slowly toward reopening, the limitations and burdens we’ve carried over the last year are still with us. Everything changed so quickly last year that we barely got a chance to register how we moved through Lent; it felt like an accomplishment just to make it to Easter and then each day that followed in its turn.
I think we’re a bit grittier this year. I think we’ve learned a lot about the world, about ourselves in the last twelve months. As we’ve spent less time out and about and more time with ourselves and the ones closest to us, so many of us have been faced with hard, personal challenges on top of our collective national and global ones. But amid all of this, I have seen such resilience in us. I’ve seen faith grow and blossom in beautiful ways, I’ve watched people come alive in creative ways that may never have happened without the disruption.
So this Easter, let’s not repeat the last. We’re not the same as we were then. Let’s move through these next three weeks with anticipation, with hopefulness, with resolute attention toward what we celebrate at this time of year: the cross, the empty tomb, and the Savior who has made a way for us, who is always with us, and who loves us.
Here’s a list of 5 ideas for how we can mark Lent and celebrate Easter intentionally in the weeks that remain:
- Spring Cleaning
There’s something to be said for investing time into our own homes - especially with how long we’ve been spending so much time in them! Pick out a day and do a deep clean. Get in the back of that closet you like to ignore, get the broom all the way under the fridge (or, better yet, pull the fridge out and clean behind and underneath!), wash all the windows, wipe down the walls, get all the way in there. We won’t over-spiritualize it here, but Jesus cleaned out the temple in Jerusalem of the things that shouldn’t have been there.
- Get outdoors
Wherever you are, no matter the weather, find time to get outside and enjoy nature. It might be a walk around your neighborhood or a quick stroll around the block on a break from work. Maybe you have access to a park nearby, or to the beach. Or, you can take a drive and spend an afternoon somewhere beautiful. Whatever it looks like for you, step out from under a roof and bask in the world the Lord has created. When we do this, we can be reinvigorated, refreshed, reinspired, seeing how the God who created this beautiful world is the same one who knows every hair on our heads and loves us perfectly. It’s that love that brought Jesus to and through the cross to gain life for us — and to have it abundantly.
- Remember the life of Christ
In the same way that we retell the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, Lent invites us to reflect on His life. Pick your favorite of the four Gospels, or maybe even the one you’re least familiar with, and remember what He did by reading it. If you go with the Gospel of Mark or John, you can go slow and just read one chapter each day.
- Practice the devotion and obedience of Jesus
Jesus modeled what a life fully attentive and submitted to the Father looked like. Are there areas of your life that God is inviting you to go deeper? To break a habit or to form a new one? To repair a relationship? To just spend more time with Him? Say a bold, loving yes to the Lord, and reach out to someone to help you do it.
- Pick out a devotional or reading for Holy Week.
The YouVersion Bible App has many wonderful Lenten devotionals, designed to guide you through different topics or books of the bible across various spans of time – from just three days to year-long plans. Browse through and add just five or ten minutes to your morning or evening, to think about the Lord and soften your heart to receive Him and celebrate His amazing grace on Easter Sunday.