The forty days of Lent for this year begin next week on Ash Wednesday, February 25th. Though Lent as a church observation has fallen from favor in many evangelical churches, I like to follow the Church calendar. It delineates the seasons of the year and helps us to focus on seasons in our lives. Traditionally, Lent is a period of sacrifice leading up to Easter in which we do without and practice penance as a reminder once again to die to self. It is a named period in which we recommit ourselves to holiness…though, this should be our daily vocation.
This year, the Spirit has brought the life and ministry of Simon Peter to my heart as my guide through the Lenten season. I suspect that many of us find a kindred spirit in Peter. He is a bit gruff and rough around the edges. Jesus does not pluck him out of the ivory towers of religiously trained nor was he an important thinker of his time. Just a guy with a boat who spent his cold, dark nights out of the water trying to make his livelihood by netting fish and selling them.
Saint Peter’s mouth is known to have run before his brain and his impetuous behaviors make us initially wonder what Jesus saw in him to validate his selection as an Apostle. As one of His closest disciples, we learn of a man of commitment who shares the same fears and failures that we do. To be with Peter as he abandons his Lord at a crucial moment is to be with us as we question our own commitment when it seems that God’s love should preclude some of the struggles and strife that visit our own lives. Who among us has not stepped from the boat onto the water proclaiming “I believe, I believe” only to falter a few steps in and find ourselves with the waterline quickly approaching our necks?
Lent is a time for us to once again to renew ourselves to the words that Peter left us in his first epistle:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15