Making Lent Meaningful
Perhaps when you hear the word, “lent,” you think of the nasty stuff that generates in your pockets, but for the Church it denotes a very important season in which we focus on our Lord’s journey to the cross in Jerusalem. Lent is a 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, (and for those of you who actually count the days – it does not include Sundays). The length of the season recalls the time that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness after his baptism. Just as the Season of Advent is an intentional time to create space in our hearts and to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, Lent is a season for us to be more deliberate in our spiritual disciplines of prayer, study of scripture, and self-denial, while we examine ourselves and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. As we enter into the Season of Lent this Wednesday, beginning with our Ash Wednesday worship service at 6:30pm, I encourage you to make this season meaningful for your own spiritual growth. Let us make Lent meaningful by practicing these spiritual disciplines:
1. Fast – Fasting is often practiced by denying oneself food for at least 24 hours. The discipline of prayer is meant to replace our consumption of food. This may be a great practice for you, but I would encourage you to fast from something that distracts you from time with the Lord. Perhaps a technology fast would be appropriate since we are often distracted by the visual and audible noise created by our devices. Limit the amount of time you spend on them. Turn off the television or other electronic devices and use this time for silence, prayer, scripture reading and reflection.
2. Read Scripture – Take time each day to read a devotion or to read a passage of scripture. As part of fasting from technology, consider using your smart phone, iPad, or computer solely for the purpose of reading scripture rather than being distracted by other things like social media. YouVersion is a great Bible app that offers plenty of devotionals, reading plans, and has the bible and even can read the bible to you. If you are a “check the box” person, it’s helpful to remind you each day to stop and read your devotion for the day.
3. Pray – Take intentional time to talk with God; not just when asking a blessing of the meal. Our prayers don’t have to be long, but they should be sincere. Try the BIF prayer – (brief, intense, and frequent). When you stop to put gas in your car, pray at the pump – what else are you going to do with that time? Be intentional throughout your day, just like the monks who saw mundane things like doing laundry or ironing clothes as an opportunity to pray.
4. Worship – Make worship a priority during Lent. Not just on Sundays, but on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Use the car ride on the way home to discuss the Sunday school lesson and the sermon. 5. Giving – Lent is about sacrificial giving. You can participate by giving to our Lenten Mission Project for Haiti, but it’s not just about our money. Give of yourself by going out of your way to serve others – to bless someone without expecting anything in return.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jeff