February 16, 2018 | by: Rev. John Hartman | 0 comments
Posted in: Children & Family
From The Pastor
Sometimes we are confused by the season of Lent. And we will say things like, "That’s a Catholic thing isn’t it?" The answer is, Lent is not a Catholic thing. It’s a Christian thing, even though not all Christians make an annual practice of observing Lent in the church year. In case you are wondering, you will not find the word ‘Lent’ in the Bible, but the roots of Lent come directly from both the Old and New Testaments. By the early 4th century, a 40 day period of preparation for Easter had become fairly widespread in the Christian Church. This 40 day season echoes the biblical stories of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. We know that Moses spent 40 days on the mountain receiving the Law from God (Exodus 34). Elijah journeyed in the wilderness and was sustained by God for 40 days and nights (1 Kings 19), and Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days and nights (Matthew 4). In all three stories the wilderness is a place of a significant encounter with God.
The word Lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means ‘length.’ This word was used to denote that season of the year in which the days lengthen. We observe Lent as spring approaches, a time of year when the days are lengthening and new life is emerging. The season of Lent blends ascetic or ‘wilderness’ themes with the hope of new life. It is a season for anticipating the coming resurrection.
I like to think of Lent as a time for saying “yes” as well as a time for saying “no.” Lent can be a time for saying “yes” as you deliberately take up spiritual practices that will lead you deeper into the way of Jesus Christ. This focus on discipleship could include a Bible reading plan, reading a biography of one of the saints, working through a book about some aspect of the Christian life, or engaging in acts of service to the community. Lent can be a time for saying “no” as you choose to fast or refrain from some normal activity (or food) and as you humbly turn away from anything in your life that keeps you at a distance from God. Perhaps Lent challenges us to say both yes and no. We give ourselves to a renewed commitment in our walk with Jesus, and we deliberately confront and stay away from those things which hinder that walk.
So what will the next 40 days look like for you? Be specific. Do something that will truly draw you closer to Jesus. If you’re going to take up a new spiritual practice, be focused. If you’re going to turn away from some other practices, get serious and let go of whatever stands between you and God. Whatever you do, draw near to Jesus. Take the next step in that direction. That’s what Lent is really for.
“Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store.” N.T. Wright
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