A few years ago televangelist Robert Schuller proposed that we take another look at the meaning of Lent. Lent, the TV preacher suggested, ought to be understood as an acronym, with the letters standing for "Let's Eliminate Negative Thinking."
There do seem to be a lot of negatives associated with Lent: saying no to temptation, denying one's physical desires, fasting and making sacrifices. In some ways Lent is the liturgical season that most goes against our looking-out-for-No. 1 culture. The purpose of the season, though, is not just to recall Jesus' fasting in the wilderness, his torture, and execution. It is to draw us closer to God by attending to the deeper spiritual realities of life, to open our hearts not only to the suffering of the cross but to the wondrous joys of resurrection. For even while we go through Lent, we are always called to the awareness that we are in the final analysis an Easter people. He is risen indeed!
Who Needs Faith?
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13
To be human is to experience temptation, and in Luke's narrative—the final event before his public ministry begins—Jesus is put to the test. He resists the promise of material abundance: as indispensable as bread may seem, humble obedience to God is even more important. The devil offers worldly power and glory, which Jesus rejects in order to "serve only God."