Connecting to Christ and each other
In 2020, February 26 marks the beginning of Lent. Churches throughout the world and over the centuries have observed the Lenten season in many different ways. The common thread is our focus on Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross, culminating on Resurrection Day, Easter Sunday. Ironically, the word “Lent” has no significant spiritual meaning. It simply denotes that we are entering the Spring season; “Lenten” is derived from the Old English word (lencten) for the “lengthening” of days that occurs as we move away from Winter. Nevertheless, for many believers Lent is a very spiritual season of engaging the Lord through the Bible and prayer, tapping into the deep longings of our soul, facing the darkness with the Light of Christ… Michael Ford goes as far as to say, “Lent is the season to confront our demons and expel them.”
By definition Lent is the forty days (not including Sundays) before Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this season. I’ve always been fascinated by some of the reasoning behind this arrangement. The forty days are meant to be a time of preparation and spiritual renewal, fashioned somewhat after Jesus’ time in the wilderness and His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). Since Jesus fasted during that time, many followers of Christ make Lent a time of fasting and other spiritual disciplines. Sundays, however, are our weekly celebration of the finished work of the Gospel. In order to identify with the victory of Christ, many believers choose not to fast on Sunday (or whatever day they observe the Sabbath). That’s why, if you do a calendar check, you’ll find a total of 46 days (six Sundays and forty other days of the week) between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
The most important part of Lent is how you choose to engage this part of your journey as a fully alive disciple of Christ. Avoid empty religious practices that might be a part of tradition but don’t actually connect you to the Lord or other believers. If you choose to fast from food make sure that your focus is not on the lack of food but the abundance of Christ’s presence. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) When I fast from a meal, I try to replace that time with prayer, Scripture reading, or a time of worship - sometimes with other believers.
Many people choose to fast from certain activities that consume their time - watching TV shows, gaming, or social media. Again, replace that time with something that builds up your relationship with God or people. When our kids were in high school, we instituted some mobile phone-free time weekly during Lent. We turned the phones off, put them in a basket, and did something together. It was not easy “detoxing” from our phone “addiction,” but the positive results and great activities we shared are still some of my favorite memories from that season of life.
For many, Lent is a time to take up something new or begin the next step in our walk with Christ. Some churches have designated Lent as a time of preparation for baptism. When I was 12-years-old, my parents enrolled me in a “pastor’s class” (similar to confirmation in some traditions) before getting baptized at Easter. While Northland offers baptism and classes throughout the year, maybe this is a time where you could make some intentional plans to grow in Christ. Consider asking someone to disciple or mentor you for the season. Meet once a week, one on one, and do a Bible study together or share what Christ is teaching you through your personal studies. Regardless of what you choose, I pray that God will deepen your trust in Him, enrich your worship of Him, and connect you even more vitally to fellow Christians during Lent.
Check out more Lenten resources for the whole family here >