In the Church calendar year we are about to enter the period of Lent – the forty days leading up to Easter. The term Lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which means “Spring.” The practice dates from around A.D. 300 and is primarily based on Jesus’ forty days of fasting during the time He was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2). The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (looking to God), fasting (looking inward at one’s self), and almsgiving (caring for one’s neighbor). Today, some people give up a vice, add something that will bring them closer to God, and may even give the time or money spent they would have spent to charitable purposes or organizations.
There are several holy days within the season of Lent.
- Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity (this year for us on Tuesday night, 2/13).
- The fifth Lenten Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday (however, that term is also applied to Palm Sunday) marks the beginning of Passiontide.
- The sixth Lenten Sunday, commonly called Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent immediately preceding Easter.
- Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday to commemorate the days on which Judas spied on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane before betraying him.
- Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, and is a day Christians commemorate the Last Supper shared by Christ with his disciples.
- Good Friday follows the next day, on which Christians remember His crucifixion and burial.
Following are some questions that I would like to pose to you about your life during Lent?
- Are you tending to daily disciplines during this time of year such as setting aside a specific time to read your daily devotional, pray for the lost, search the Scriptures for life’s daily guidance?
- Are you planning to be in worship and Sunday School each and every Sunday during Lent? Proverbs 27:17: Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.
- Are you doing some personal housecleaning? We all keep way too much baggage and garbage in our lives, whether it is what we read, watch, play, eat, speak, do… Create in me a clean heart O Lord. Proverbs 27:19: As water reflects the face, so one’s heart reflects oneself.
- Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. You get the point on this one, as we ask and need forgiveness, we must also be forgiving without holding back.
- Where are you spending your money? I know I may be meddling a bit, but some of us need to hold back a bit in some areas and be more charitable in others.
- During Lent, make it a point to not just send a card to a loved one on a special occasion, but actually pay a visit to that loved one. We can offer guidance to names of those in nursing homes or shut-ins. For the shut-ins, I recommend calling them first and set up a time for a visit.
- When is the last time that you volunteered to do something around the church or community? Maybe even pick out a specific mission focus for Lent.
My encouragement to you this Lenten season is to let God lead you in some new exciting directions!