Lent is a new season for many of us- one with which we are unfamiliar because the Protestant church in America has lost touch with this ancient season (unlike our Catholic brothers and sisters). Lent lasts for 40 days between Ash Wednesday (March 5) and Easter Sunday (April 20), not counting Sundays. For many people, the most identifiable element of Lent involves fasting from sweets, caffeine or meat. However, we want to take Lent a little further this year.
Like we saw during Advent, there is a movement to reclaim Lent from the ranks of irrelevant church history. We want to rediscover this season as a rich opportunity to reflect deeply on the state of our relationships with God, confess our shortcomings, turn back toward God (repent) and remember the sacrifice that God in Christ made on the cross. Forty is an important biblical number: the rains fell for 40 days on Noah; Moses spent 40 days with God on Mount Sinai; Israel wandered in the desert for forty years; Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days; Jesus spent 40 days on earth after being raised from the dead. When God’s people, or God Himself spent forty days doing something, big things happened! God used Noah to start over, God gave Moses the Law, God led Israel to the Promised Land, Jesus resisted Satan and death! In the same way, these forty days in Lent could be transformational for your relationship with God.
We want to encourage you to do 3 things as a part of Lent this year:
1). Commit to worship. Whether it’s at Dayspring or another church, make a commitment to worship every week during Lent (even if you’re on Spring Break!).
2). Commit to read Scripture with someone else every day. Starting this Sunday (March 9), we will post daily devotionals for you on our blog and Facebook page. The readings will be based around one of the 7 Last Words of Christ on the cross, and will have questions to help you reflect on the meaning of the passage.
3). Commit to a fast. Fasting allows us to trust more that God will provide for us, and remember that our sacrifice is a dim reflection of the sacrifice Christ made for us. Whether it’s simple (coffee, sweets, beef) or complex (eating like impoverished people across the world as a way to stand in solidarity with those who hunger), we hope that you will use your fast as a daily reminder of the lengths to which Christ went to love us. If you choose, you could donate the money that you would have spent on the items from which you fast to St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation. During Advent we focused on an international ministry (Living Water), but we want to focus more locally during Lent. Look for more information about how to make your contribution.