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A Lot Like Lent

Growing up Catholic, Lent meant the forty days that I would spend avoiding pop (Pittsburghese for “soda,” if you didn’t know) and eating fried fish on Fridays, or sometimes cheese pizza.

Growing up in Catholic school, Lent meant going to mass on a Wednesday and getting ashes put on my forehead, and doing the Stations of the Cross every week.

Growing up Catholic, Lent didn’t mean anything different on the weekends—we always went to mass on Saturday. We’d even choose the midnight Easter Vigil mass over Easter Sunday to avoid the insane crowd.

But unfortunately, growing up Catholic didn’t work for me. I didn’t hear the Gospel until I went to college. Even though I went to private school and church every week, my heart didn’t belong to God. It belonged to myself and no one else.

It wasn’t until I heard and understood and believed in the Gospel that I began to understand that Lent is about more than just giving something up, though I still have a hard time articulating what Lent is really about. It wasn’t until a few years into my walk with Christ that I realized Easter—not Christmas—is by far the most important Christian celebration. You see, we are all born, just as Jesus was. However, He’s the only one who has risen from the dead. Without Easter, our faith means nothing.

Without Easter, there is no Gospel.

Guys, do you cherish the Gospel? How do you react when you hear this? How do you feel when you read that God loves us, but all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)?

You probably feel pretty crappy, huh? Nothing like being told you deserve to die.

But how do you feel when you read that because God loves us, He sent Jesus to die in our place, the death that we deserve (John 3:16)?

Do you feel relief? Or do you feel even crappier?

How do you feel when you read that it’s by grace and grace alone that you are saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8)?

Again, do you feel relief? Or do you feel even crappier? How do you respond to this scandalous situation? How is it fair that Jesus—the only human who didn’t deserve death because He was perfect—had to die for us?

How does this make you feel?

There’s a B.C. comic I love and always share around Easter (which is ironic, considering it’s a B.C.—Before Christ—comic). The first caveman says he hates the title of “Good Friday” because it’s the day His Lord was hanged on a tree. The second caveman responds, “If you were going to be hanged on that day, and He volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?”

“Good,” the first caveman answers.

How does this make you feel?

Sisters (and brothers), if the reality of the Gospel doesn’t take our breath away—if it doesn’t make us feel good, grand, loved, beautiful, redeemed, valued, excited, and a host of other positive adjectives (and perhaps some humbling adjectives)—do we even believe it?

What would life look like if we acted like we really, truly believe this?

Maybe it would look a lot like Lent—whatever that means.

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Natalie Liounis

Natalie Liounis

Natalie is a ginger and lover of Jesus, dogs, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, cooking, and hockey. She lives in Annapolis with her husband and dog, and she coordinates the writing center at a small community college on Maryland's eastern shore. In other words, her dreams have come true.
Natalie Liounis

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3 Comments

  1. Diane Tarantini on March 19, 2018 at 9:22 AM

    Great post, Natalie. I remember the first time I heard the Gospel, at a local Passion play. I was furious at every church I’d ever attended up until then. For not presenting the Gospel, or if they did, for not making it clear to me. That’s what this post reminds me of. Xoxox

  2. Jen on March 21, 2018 at 9:27 AM

    I feel very fortunate to have been taught the Gospel and its importance – partly from the church I grew up in and partly from my parents. That said, the onus for not ever really grasping it is on me. And I think I’m still wrestling with it some. I mean, I KNOW the resurrection is what I hang my faith on. But I often struggle with fully grasping it. It’s so immense in its significance. That said, “Without Easter, there is no Gospel,” sums it up perfectly. Thank you for making me think about that.

    Also, I grew up in California and we called it pop, too. 🙂

  3. Sarah Robinson on March 24, 2018 at 8:45 AM

    Having been raised Catholic and come to a full knowledge of Christ Jesus’ saving grace, I can relate to your experiences. The gospel has resonated with me so fervently for many years now, I can’t get enough of the timeless truth. Our Lord meets us in new ways every morning, and when we are open to His beautiful Spirit, we sense again, all is right with our world, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Just as the buds are bursting forth on the forsythia branches, so is the freshness of the gospel message.
    And today, I revere the beautiful disciplines the Catholic Church instilled in me, particularly my prayer life. Though I worship in a nondenominational church today, I’m deeply grateful for my Catholic upbringing. My memoir (coming out this summer, hopefully) devotes an entire chapter to the school and church my siblings and I attended. The tentative title for the chapter: “Take Two Hail Marys and Call Me in the Morning.” ?
    Blessings to you and your writing, and have a Happy Easter!

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