The word Lent (short for Lenten) means "spring(time)." In the Christian calendar it refers to the forty days leading up to the Easter celebration of Jesus' resurrection and victory over sin and death. The first reference we have to Lent comes from the Council of Nicea in AD 325. Originally, this season was a time of preparation and repentance for those wanting to be baptized on Easter. It was likened to Jesus' forty days of testing in the wilderness prior to his ministry. The season expanded beyond those preparing for baptism to include all Christians seeking closer union with Christ through repentance, prayer, fasting, and giving.
LET'S FACE IT!
Here at Bridge CC, we see this season as a great opportunity to join the Church world-wide in seeking spiritual renewal. We often live life with this,
..nagging sense that we have missed something important and have been somehow untrue- to ourselves, to others, to God. Lent is a good time to confront the source of that feeling... to let go of excuses for failings and shortcomings; a time to stop hanging on to whatever shreds of goodness we perceive in ourselves; a time to ask God to show us what we really look like... a time to face up to the personal role each of us plays in prolonging Christ's agony at Golgotha.*
In short, it's about facing it, whatever "it" is... with Christ and with our Bridge community. That's why our theme for Lent this year is, "Let's Face It!" It could be sin, grief, a troubled relationship, a past regret, a future hope, or present stagnation. Let's willingly enter into this confrontation with our Lord and one another as the road to resurrection. And lest we think this is a completely joyless season, let's also remember that the forty days of Lent do not count the Sundays therein. So, even in the midst of facing it we are reminded that Jesus' death and resurrection have already accomplished the victory we could not and cannot accomplish in our own strength. Let us be reminded of the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ as we fail forward in this Lenten wilderness journey. May it bring about greater power in the Spirit so we can carry resurrection into our homes, neighborhoods, community and world.
*Bread and Wine : Readings for Lent and Easter. 2003. Farmington, PA : Plough Pub., ©2003.
RESOURCES FOR LENT
Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri Nouwen
God is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr
Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright
A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent by Walter Brueggemann
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office by Peter Scazzero
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter by Various Authors
The three spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and giving (amongst others) can be very helpful for "facing it" this Lent. Use the following questions along with some of the corresponding ideas to help you this season.
Prayerfully consider these questions...*
- What cravings have a hold on me?
- What would be truly liberating to leave behind?
- Have I become dependent on a particular food, drink, substance, or activity?
- What would be truly challenging for me to give up during Lent?
- What is Jesus asking of me?
A Few Ideas...
- Abstain from certain food(s) and/or activities during the 40 days of Lent (take Sundays off)
- Fast on certain days each week... Wednesday (Judas betrayed Jesus) and Friday (Jesus was crucified) are considered important days
- Take the money you'd normally spend during periods of fasting and give it to a need or cause
- Choose a consistent place and time for prayer each day for 40 days
- Don't just consider things to abstain from, consider actions you need to take... serving in some way to relieve others (at home, church, or in the community)