The Season of Lent
The Season of Lent, the forty days before Easter (Sundays excepted), begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year is February 26. We will begin our Lenten observance with our weekly Church Night Supper at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Service of the Imposition of Ashes in the Sanctuary at 6:15 p.m.
The tradition of Lent began in the early Church as a time of intense final preparation for those who would be baptized and enter into the community of faith on Easter morning. It was also a time when those who had been separated from the community of faith because of egregious sin were called to repentance, confession, and renewal. Throughout the centuries, Lent has developed into a time of preparation for the Easter celebration as we journey with Jesus from the Mount of Transfiguration to Jerusalem, through the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, the events of Holy Week, and the suffering and death of our Lord. Our preparation should involve self-examination and reflection, repentance (that is, turning away from our sin), and experiencing God’s forgiving and renewing grace for us in Jesus.
One of the common disciplines of the season is “giving up something for Lent.” It is a noble discipline, to be sure, but one that can also lead us astray if we’re not careful. If we’re going to give up something for Lent, we need to be sure what we’re giving up is truly a sacrifice—it’s easy to give up something for Lent if it’s something we don’t really care about! And we need to ask, “What are going to do with the time and/or resources we use on what we’re giving up?” If, for instance, you give up that daily soda, what are you going to do with the time and money you save by not drinking it? You could spend that five to ten minutes in prayer or in reading the Bible, and you can save that money and give it to the church or another charity program. If you’re giving up an hour of television or social media each day, spend that time in prayer or Bible-reading, make some encouraging phone calls, send some uplifting texts or emails, or visit someone who needs it. There are a lot of possibilities, and how you figure out what to give up for Lent and what you’re going to do with that sacrificed time and resource. The point of “giving up something for Lent” is to deny ourselves physically so that we can sharpen ourselves spiritually.
I hope you will join me in observing a holy Lent as we travel with Jesus to the cross and to the empty tomb. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, February 26, at 6:15 p.m. in our Sanctuary for the Ash Wednesday service!