What is Lent?
Lent, a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter was originally a period of preparation for those to be baptized at Easter. It later became a time of penitence and self-examination for all Christians. In some ways, it is meant to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and resisting temptation prior to His ministry.
By celebrating Lent, we follow Jesus into the wilderness, resist temptation, pray, and proceed “on the way” to Jerusalem, and the cross of Good Friday.
Our Lenten journey is one of repentance, that is, changing directions from self, self-serving patterns and an myopic focus toward the others-focused way of life of following Jesus. We follow Jesus in laying down ourselves for others and trust that the power of that raised Jesus from the dead is enough to guide us in repentance and renewal. The intervention of God’s gracious Spirit makes life-long changes become possible. Turning from the old self at Lent and experiencing a dying of old ways prepares us to truly experience the joy of Easter.
The following outline for this period of prayer and reflection is intended to assist you as you along the way. It is not meant to be followed legalistically. But we often need help in focusing on what is truly important and in laying aside distractions… and this guide is designed to provide that help.
Use as much or as little of this as seems appropriate for you. Remember that we are in the season of Lent and our praying has repentance (turning from the wrong towards the right) as its focus.
So, repentance is a two-fold spiritual discipline.
First, it is an acknowledgment of our sin as it shows itself in the different aspects of our being, wrong thinking and attitudes, wrong affections and aspirations, wrong behaviors and actions.
Second, it is a turning from our sin to Christ for forgiveness and strength to change and grow to be more like Him. It is a sober reflection upon our condition, which leads us to faith and fresh trust in and leaning on of the finished work of Christ.
The reflection of Lent on our sin, our brokenness and all the ways we are tied to and contribute to the brokenness in the world should serve to increase our gratitude and wonder at the love of God.
May this time work that in you, and in our community as a whole.