We prepare for Easter through the denial of something delicious, something we enjoy, something we feel may be hindering our relationship with God. We prepare for a Day of Celebration to remember the victory of Christ’s Resurrection. This year, I want to prepare for the burial. I want to know the joy of Easter because I feel the weight of the disciples the night of Jesus’ death. I want to know the night before the sunrise.
Advent is a time of anticipation: We are awaiting the promised King. We are reminded to wait on God for the promises He has made, even to us. We face the tension between the now and not yet, and we rest in it for the short weeks of Advent.
At Lent, we remember the King that did come. The King that faced death, and the King that rose again. We mourn the pain of Our King; and we, for a few short days, mourn as the disciples did, the loss of Our King.
We are preparing for the burial. We are preparing for the burial, and remembering the burial of our Great Teacher, Friend, King, and Lord [we remember that he was buried for us]. And through Lent, we remember the call to die, the call to pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow the Only Giver of Life. We, too, are preparing for burial.
The sinful woman approaches Jesus in the Pharisee’s house, anoints him with oil, and weeps at his feet. This symbol is a mystery to the onlookers until Jesus makes it clear, that this beautiful thing she has done for him is preparing him for burial. And we are reminded of the circle of life: death and life death and life death and life. The joy of the resurrection is only experienced through the mourning of our King. The joy of our being made new cannot be mixed with our old life. We must let ourselves be prepared for burial, along with Jesus; like oil and water, the new and old life cannot be mixed. And yes, the death is painful. The denial is hard; but the Sinful Woman shows us that it is beautiful. Because, in our death, we, too, are adorned in preparation for our Coming King [Revelation 21:2]. So maybe this year, we will not look at Lent as so much a denying ourselves of unhealthy habits, but as a preparation, an adornment, for a celebration to the One who was, is, and is to come.