While I love the Advent season and lighting candles leading up to the birth of Jesus and celebrating that Birth with family, I also love the Lenten season leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus in a much different way.
Advent is the season of expectation.
It’s upbeat. We eagerly anticipate Christ’s coming and all the fun traditions associated with it. The Christmas tree. The gifts. The cookies!
Lent is the season of reflection.
It’s somber. We know it’s heading for the cross. For sacrifice. For grief.
Jesus is alive again! Our joy as we behold His victory over death eclipses the sweet, holy glow that hovers over the nativity.
My Quirky Tradition
In recent years, I’ve created a tradition of keeping my nativity display on the front hall table from Advent until Resurrection Day. The tree came down at the new year. The cookies were gobbled up long ago and the gifts put away. But the reminder of His Coming greets me every time I open the door.
On Ash Wednesday, I begin to dismantle the stable scene. One character disappears, placed in the closet, waiting for others to join him. Sunday by Sunday through Lent, the cast shrinks. First one, then another, abandons the Child in the manger.
As Holy Week begins, the desertions increase. One leaves on Palm Sunday. The next departs on Monday, until by Good Friday, only Mary and the Lamb of God remain.
Come Saturday, with Christ in the grave, the Lamb is alone.
Jesus was called the Man of Sorrows. Can you feel the sorrow as I remove the wise men, the shepherd, Joseph, and the animals? Even the angels of heaven couldn’t bear to watch Jesus hanging on the cross.
As Easter approaches, my reflections on my own sinfulness and what Jesus did for me dig deep into my soul.
During other parts of the year, I may pat myself on the back for the good deeds I’ve performed, but Lent reminds me of the fallen nature I still deal with. I evaluate. In which areas have I grown in character? In which is improvement sorely needed?
AND THEN—Easter morning!
My days of sneaking predawn Easter baskets into the rooms of my young (and not so young) children are long past. Instead, at that same hour, I haul away the stable and replace it with a flower arrangement. Glorious new life! And who is that peacefully settled under the blooms?
May this Resurrection season bring as much joy to you as it does to me.