This past Sunday, Aaron shared that our next few weeks in The Practice are going to be focused on the season of Lent. For some of us, Lent is a familiar and well understood concept. For others, it is a completely new experience! For others still, it is a difficult reminder of where we have come from and where we may not want to return. It is our hope that in focusing on Lent in the upcoming weeks, that we could provide a safe and fresh perspective to those of you who are wary, and introduce and educate those of you who are new.
So, no matter what Lent means, or has meant to you, we invite you to walk the path with us this season, to draw closer to how this aspect of the church calendar can enrich and point us to greater intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we hope to focus on a brief introduction to Lent and over the next two weeks we will be posting regularly to provide you with resources that will help take us deeper into the season of Lent. Hopefully these recommended books, articles and different medias will enrich and educate you further on what Lent is and give you some fresh ideas on how to engage it. I’m so excited to share all the rich resources we have gathered, so don’t forget to check back between now and our next Practice.
What is Lent?
I don’t know about you, but as someone who grew up in a church that didn’t practice Lent, every time I heard the word ‘Lent,’ all I understood was that it had something to do with fasting.
Well, I am pleased to share that Lent is a much more beautifully complex concept than simply fasting. First and foremost, Lent is a 40 day period in which we intentionally prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter.
I had a great conversation with a friend the other day, who described that in his study, his favorite understanding of Lent is that during our day to day lives as Christians, we too easily forget the beauty and central focus of Jesus’ life, death and ressurrection in our lives. Some Christians appear to live as if the death and resurrection of Jesus never happened, and instead our lives become absorbed in the day to day experiences of life – replacing God with other ambitions, goals and idols. To put it most beautifully – our desires become disordered.
Lent is the season that does something about this situation! It is a time of preparation that calls us back to God and put to death the indifference that builds up in our hearts. Lent is an intentional time in the church calendar to reorder our desires back to God.
As we explore Lent together this year, try to remember this key thing – no matter how you choose to prepare, Lent is ultimately a time of repentance, that beckons us to once again enter into the joy of the Gospel that we too easily become numb to.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the primary ‘journey’ of Lent?
The 40 days of Lent are a reflection of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. We too use these 40 days to prepare for Easter, by traveling the road of Jesus towards Calvary.
- What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It embodies the theme of repentance and renewal. You may have seen many people walking around with black marks on their forehead – this is simply a mark of the cross made with ashes, used as a sign of repentance remembering that “From dust you came and to dust you shall return.” It is a physical sign that shows we know where we stand before God.
- What does baptism have to do with Lent?
Traditionally, the historical church used lent as a time to prepare for baptism. The image of baptism is quite beautiful to keep in mid for Lent; when you think of how baptism is a picture of us putting off sin and rising from the water into a new life in the Holy Spirit – this is the journey of Lent! To once more put off the old and immerse ourselves deeper in the joy of the resurrection.
- Why does Lent focus on fasting, prayer and almsgiving?
The practice of fasting during Lent, is one way to reveal the discipline it takes to turn away from sin. The strong focus on prayer during Lent, helps us reorder our desires and turn towards God once again in dependence.
- How should I practice Lent?
We’ll be exploring through the next few weeks some different ways you can engage this season of preparation. At The Practice, we have chosen to embrace practicing The Examen, which Father Michaels will teach and lead us through the next time we gather. I encourage you however, to practice Lent in any way that allows you to give up your disordered desires and reorder them towards God. The Examen will be a beautiful tool to help us practice this.
- How Lent Can Make a Difference in Your Relationship with God by Dr. Mark Roberts
This is a helpful introductory article on how to understand and think about lent as someone who may be new to the practice.
- The Great Lent by Meghan Robins
This is a helpful blog post from The Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, introducing and reflecting on Lent.
- Ash Wednesday and Our Lent Journey Together by The Refuge
This wonderful post gives you the opportunity to sign up for a daily Lenten e-mail and features a beautiful video by The Work of the People.
Check back soon for more resources!
Grace and Peace to you,
Jenna and The Practice Team