America needs Lent. We are the land of denials. We are the land where it is never our fault, where someone else is to blame, where our successes are all our own doing but our failures are always due to someone else's meddling or mere circumstance. We are the land where we were shocked when a President actually says, "The Buck Stops Here." That was 60 some odd years ago. . . it was shocking then; it would be unthinkable now.
The nasty, twisted shape that rugged individualism deforms into, the way the myth of the self-made man crumbles is that we become a nation of denial. We can't admit our lack, our faults - because then we might also need to be humble and take no credit for our successes either.
We in America need Lent. I think more often Pastors get frustrated in Advent, with the over commericialization, and all the "why can't we just sing happy carols now on December 3rd" - and with Lent we don't get as much pressure to just jump to Easter hymns just yet. Americans want to blow through Advent - we don't like that season. . . but it is really Lent that we need. Of course we don't think much of the season of waiting - we are in the richest land in the history of the world.
No, Lent is the big one. We need to understand repentance, we need to understand just how much of our life is a denial of our own fault - we need to shout mea culpa, mea cupla, mea maxima culpa. . . but who bothers with Latin anymore? No, we don't confess, we cover up, we deny, we try to explain, we admit only to being young and foolish - never wrong. We are the land of the no-fault divorce, of the win-win conflict resolution. We are never wrong.
And that is why, so, so often, there is no Truth in American culture, for all the people crying Lord, Lord in vain.
We need Lent, so that with repentance we might behold our crucified Lord and receive His mercy. Lord have mercy upon us.