There are two months in the early part of every year when we are reminded of God’s deep and abiding love for us.
The first is February when we celebrate Black History Month and the second is March when we enter the 40 days of Lent.
What do these two months teach us? How can they change our lives? How can they deepen our understanding and bring us closer to God?
Let’s begin with Black History Month as it just came to a close.
This month was bittersweet as it is every year.
We rejoiced and celebrated so many of our blessings. We celebrated our accomplishments. We recounted our victories to our children and grandchildren. We were reminded of our journey, like so many of the great Biblical journeys in Scripture. It was a month of hope. We thanked those whose love shines like a beacon lighting our way forward.
But it was also a month of remembrance. We remembered our history. We remembered the sacrifices that were made. We remembered our heroes who loved us, fought for us and who died in the hope of a better life for all of us who came after.
Joy and sorrow. These are the two sides of our coin. And what do we learn from our history? We learn one of Christ’s greatest teachings. We learn that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV).
And then we have Lent.
Most of us think that Lent is about giving something up through fasting and abstinence. Denying ourselves some of the treats we love in order to honor Christ and His 40 day fast before His crucifixion. We think of emptying ourselves of temptations.
But Lent is also a time to fill ourselves up with scripture and prayer.
Lent is a time to think about the lessons of love which God teaches us. As we read in Joel 2:13 (NIV), “Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity…”
And so these two months, Black History Month and the month of Lent both reinforce the greatest commandment of the New Testament that of all God’s gifts, the greatest is love.
Let’s make sure we don’t just think of love for two months but for the entire year.