The Latter Rain: Celebrating the Season of Lent
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” Joel 2:23 ESV
Every year I look forward to the celebration of Lent. That’s right. I said ‘celebration’ not ‘observation’. In my younger years I observed the season of Lent not really knowing what it was about. I fasted and tried to spend more time in prayer as if Lent was an obligation the church told me I should observe.
In time, I began to see the Lenten season as much more than just something to be observed; it is a celebration of new life. Lent is placed on the liturgical calendar as a precursor to Springtime for a reason. In spring we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ as a time of new birth. Lent usually begins toward the end of the winter season; it comes to reminds us that spring is just around the corner.
All things that look brown and dead now will soon be green and alive with new life. We too can come alive if we turn to the Lord in repentance and allow the Spirit of the Living God to wash over us, raising us up to new heights of living.
In Lent we are called to increase our times of fasting, prayer, and giving as a means of repentance. The Greek word for repentance means to turn away. However, when we turn away from something, we are necessarily turning toward something else. That something else is to turn toward a renewed life in the Spirit of God and away from our self-centered lives that so easily entangle us.
The Latter Rain brings new life…
Today, many of us Christians mark our foreheads with ashes to remind ourselves that we are dust and to dust we shall return. But until the time of our return to the dust we can be re-born. No matter who we are or what we have done, we can die to ourselves and be continually re-born in the power of God’s Spirit. We can be re-born like the tulip bulb that lies dormant through much of the year but with the latter rain that falls in the spring, rises from the dust to new life.
The prophet Joel reminds God’s people to be glad and rejoice, for the Lord not only gave us the early rain, the blessings we have already experienced, but He also gives the latter rain. This latter rain comes to wash off the wintery dust that has collected on our souls and renew us once again.
Come, let us celebrate Ash Wednesday and be glad!