|What Is Lent?|
There are both truths and misconceptions about Lent. When people think of Lent, several things come to mind – painful religious experiences of forced ritual, or the mystery of our faith, or an important time of spiritual preparation preceding the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior.
In the early centuries of the church, the forty days before Easter came to be recognized as the season of Lent (a Latin word that means “spring”), when new converts were prepared for baptism. This included biblical instruction, prayer, repentance, and fasting. In time, the entire church embraced the practices of Lent.
Early believers felt that the magnitude of Resurrection called for special preparation. Second-century believers fasted for several days as part of that preparation. Over the next few centuries, 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten Season, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Because early Christians considered it inappropriate to fast on the day of the Resurrection, Sundays were not included in the 40 days. Therefore, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.
|Our Theme for this year |
The theme for this Lenten season is surrender and embrace, especially attitudes and actions that can prevent our relationships with our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers from thriving. Each week, we will focus on an action or attitude that Scriptures say can prevent our relationships from flourishing. Each day, there will be passages that remind us to surrender a particular attitude and action that hinder thriving relationships and embrace attitudes and actions that promote healthy relationships.
God has given each of us a gift in Christ – our true self. However, many followers of Jesus fail to receive this gift as reality. We learn to cover up our true self with the fig leaves of our false self – defensiveness, mistrust, jealousy, anger, people-pleasing, pretense, and managing an image. Putting on the false self, sabotages our relationship with God and with others. Jesus has given us a new identity, a new self. We are chosen (John 15:16), beloved (1 John 3:1), friends of Jesus (John 15:15), God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We are treasured children of God. This is our truest self.
But how do we muffle and silence our false self and its lies and let our true self speak and sing God is truth about who we are in Christ? Well, we ask the Holy Spirit to empower us, day-by-day, to surrender attitudes and actions that prevent our relationship with God and others from soaring, and embrace attitudes and actions that promote our relationship with God and others to begin and continue flourishing. This Lenten season is the perfect opportunity to do just that as we prepare to experience the Risen Christ afresh.