A headline on the religion page of the newspaper a few years back talked about “opening doors to new takes on Lent traditions.” The article contained not one word, not one, about Christ, or the cross, or salvation from sin.
The traditional application of ashes to the forehead on Ash Wednesday over the centuries has been a mark of humble repentance at the foot of the cross and an emblem of human mortality, that the wages of sin is death.
But the “new take” by Andrew Genszler, director of advocacy for the ELCA, was that “the ash…is to remind us that we are from the earth and that in some way return not in a woe-is-me way but in a cyclical way…We’re part of a great cycle.”
Genszler was promoting an email series entitled: “Living Earth: A 40-day Reflection on our Relationship with God’s Creation.” According to the article, “It looks at environmental issues like urban sprawl, buying local and disappearing fish, and offers questions and thoughts for reflection…”
Genszler says that humans “essentially have added to what is a broken ecosystem,” and “what Lent affords us the opportunity to do is reflect on our position in that to the extent that we’re responsible for it…”
You can’t make this stuff up! No Christian questions that we are to be good stewards of the world God has loaned to us. But is this what Lent is about? Environmental issues? Urban sprawl? Local and disappearing fish? The ecosystem? Is this what dying sinners need?
If this is the “new take” on Lent, let us pray to God for the old take on Lent as set down by St. Paul: “For I had no intention of knowing anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2 EHV).
Long ago, some Greeks approached the apostle Philip with a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus” (John 12:21 EHV). God grant that His people may ask not for some “new take” on Lent, but demand: “We want to see Jesus!”