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The Season of Lent
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
the early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation.
During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church.
In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by selfexamination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word. To make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.
Each day of week, we will practice a particular one of these spiritual disciplines, in preparation to remember and celebrate Easter.
Monday—Meditating on the Word
In the desert Jesus responded to each temptation with Scripture. In imitation of him, we seek to make God’s Word part of us—to chew and consume it—until it springs out of us naturally, even in the arid lands of stress, grief, and temptation. Spend extra time with the Monday readings, reflecting on questions like “What is God saying to me?” or “Where am I in this story?” or “What does this teach me about Christ?” Consider memorizing a portion of the text from that day. We will put a recommended section in bold.
Our own desires often crowd and drown our attentiveness to God’s voice and way. Every Tuesday, we will seek to quiet that noise by denying ourselves some pleasure, privilege, or preoccupation. In the space created, we often hear both God’s voice and our own heart more clearly. Some suggestions for self-denial: internet or social media, television or any other entertainment screen-time, music, coffee and sweets, tobacco and alcohol. It may even be something like bathing, nice clothing, or speaking. Some of these things might seem insignificant or unnecessary to following Christ, but the idea to practice discipline in small things in order to train our hearts to be ready for when we need to sacrifice our own desires when it really matters in times of crisis and need.
Whenever Christ practiced solitude—in the desert, on the mountain—it was to pray. Prayer spreads throughout the week, but we take Wednesdays to spend more focused and/or extended time in certain kinds of prayer.
From the beginning of the Gospel—as preached by John, Jesus, and the apostles in Acts—the immediate call is the same: repent—return to the Lord to change your hearts and lives. We respond to this call throughout the Lenten season, and especially on Thursdays.
Fasting has a way of revealing and re-orienting our desires, which is important for preparing our hearts for Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is therefore the most common practice of Lent and the one we are emphasizing as a whole church family. We encourage everyone who is able to fast from breakfast and lunch on Fridays throughout Lent. Spend the time you would be eat lunching doing the Friday devotional.
If we allow, the Spirit will tend to work through all of these disciplines to open up new self-awareness. This can be uplifting, humbling, or painful (or all at once). Every Saturday, we will bring the week’s insights and graces to a point in a practice of self-examination.
Today, we gather together in worship. We bring our whole selves to the gathering of God’s people to confess, listen, and proclaim God’s Word together.
These daily reflections are meant to help give focus and meaning to the spiritual discipline of the day as we prepare our hearts and lives together to celebrate the death hand resurrection of our Lord.