We are getting ready to enter what many in our culture might see as a “weird season.” In the Church, we call it Lent. Lent is the 40 day time period each year that we spend intentionally getting our hearts ready for the celebration that comes with the Resurrection at Easter. But according to the Bible, the best way to get ready for new life is to, first of all, go through a time of denying ourselves through repentance. When we repent we do the honest, deep, raw work of confessing to God where we have blown it… apologizing for it… and embracing God’s forgiveness towards a better life.
This year Lent will come at an even stranger time. It begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14—which is also Valentine’s Day—and then Easter comes on April Fool’s day (April 1) this year. How ironic on a day celebrated for overly expensive chocolates and roses we will put on ashes. How striking on a day where the culture celebrates “tricking” people with falsities we as the people of God celebrate the greatest Truth of all! Weird right?
I raise all of this today because the best way for us to experience the Resurrection is to first walk purposefully and intentionally through the 40 days of Lent.
What can we do differently this year to make these 40 days truly significant?
Let me offer you a few elements to think about over the next week before the start of Lent occurs.
1) Plan now to come to Ash Wednesday to start Lent and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Resurrection services at the end of Lent.
2) Engage the sermon series “Fire” with a firm commitment to living a holy life. One of the practices that we invite you into is to read a chapter of 1 Peter every Wednesday. Details will be provided in the weekly newsletter and on the Church Facebook page. We encourage you also to follow up on the practices offered in the sermon series.
3) Join us every morning, or even one morning of the week Monday-Friday of Lent (starting Thursday, February 15) at the North Campus at 6 AM for 30 minutes of prayer. On Tuesday mornings we will also celebrate communion.
4) Consider practicing fasting. Either with food or, in an age of technological overload, with social media. Even if it is not a complete “halt” in usage, consider stopping at a certain time of day, reducing to no more than 15 minutes a day, or some other intentional restriction that will allow you to turn your attention to God.
We will offer more possibilities moving forward, but I would ask that we begin now to commit to a period of holy intentionality through repentance and humility.
I realize it can sound weird… but if we are willing to make the journey we will be surprised at the Resurrection we experience. Let us be a holy people.