What is Ash Wednesday & Lent?
Next Wednesday, we begin the season of Lent. Lent has been practiced throughout church history since the 3rd and 4th centuries. It begins with Ash Wednesday and goes through Holy week. This practice of the 40 days before Easter (not including Sundays because they are feast days where we celebrate the Resurrection and the already-not yet of Jesus’ work of redemption and the establishing of his kingdom) corresponds with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting. Lent is a season of preparation, repentance, and renewal. It is not a sacrament, it is a discipline. Just as we prepare for big events in our lives like tests, procedures, weddings, and graduations, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
So this Lenten season, we encourage you, if you are not sure about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, or what it means to be involved in the church, spend some time asking questions. We invite you to read the Scriptures to see what they really have to say about who God is and what Jesus came to do. If you are a Christian, this can be a time to ask yourself some hard questions about your spiritual life. The elders and pastoral staff would love to spend time with you digging into what in means to follow Jesus. Wherever you find yourself and whatever your struggling with, please remember, it is crucial to focus on Jesus and the gospel! Don’t miss the love, grace, and joy that is yours in Jesus.
Sometimes people see Lent as no more than an empty ritual where people don’t eat meat or chocolate and eat fish on Friday. This season can become the Christian’s second attempt at a New Year’s Resolution where it is no more than just a self improvement plan. The focus is not on giving something up, but it is about asking yourself, what gets in the way of my resting in Jesus? What do I cherish more than Jesus? Denying ourselves of those things is to remind us that we do not live by bread alone, but that Jesus is the true bread of life, our only source of strength and sustenance.
You could also use this time to immerse yourself in Scripture, to set aside a regular time to pray, get involved in a small group, or serve around you where you see a need. If I could recommend a resource to help you navigate this season, I’d encourage you to pick up Paul Tripp’s Lenten devotional, Journey to the Cross. The staff is going to be reading this and we would love for you to join us! This Lenten season, we encourage you to take your hearts and your humanity seriously and pursue our Lord and Savior afresh as we prepare to celebrate his resurrection from the dead and the promise that He is in the business of renewing and restoring this whole world!
If you want to know more about the season of Lent, please read this article from Pastor Craig Higgins. It is extremely rich and very helpful.