Lent, 2016: The Beginning

The season of Lent is an important time for
followers of Christ. Rich with history, Lent is
a meaningful time to reflect on Christ's
resurrection and move closer to him.

 

 

Lent begins tomorrow. On Ash Wednesday. Around the world Christians will be placing a smudge of ash on their foreheads as the first act in a 40-day introspective journey both to remember and to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

You may have always celebrated Lent as a follower of Jesus. More likely, if you are reading this blog, you are part of a church that has never celebrated Lent--and is likely proud of that fact. While I disagree with that sentiment of pride; I get it. I grew up in a church that neither practiced Lent nr taught me the beauty and significance of such a practice. Sad!

Here is a very brief background about Lent and why you might consider adding it to your spiritual formation and discipleship practices. 

There is no doubt that during the medieval era, Lent became associated with rules and rule-keeping. People were burdened with Lenten practices that were more rules than practice and were often loaded with the idea that this is how you gained salvation. That was an unfortunate development, akin to the way that some moderns Christians seem to think that certain behaviors help them gain spiritual merit. That "I have to earn this" mentality has been around a long time.

But long before Lent slipped into a period of rules, it was a reverential practice that helped ancient Christians draw their bodies, minds and souls to the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for them.

But long before Lent slipped into a period of rules, it was a reverential practice that helped ancient Christians draw their bodies, minds and souls to the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for them. If much of the year they were embroiled in the stuff of daily life, for 40 days they could focus on this single, unbelievable sacrifice of Jesus. Lent was their way to acknowledge first, that Jesus had died for them, and second, they had been the cause of his death. This reality took their breath away, brought them low, filled them with desire to be rid of their sins. So, they smudged their foreheads, fasted, prayed, remembered the story of Jesus' death and waited for the day of resurrection.  

It began in the ancient era of Christianity, in places that were located in modern-day countries like Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia. It spread to India. Asia. Alaska.  

We invite you to join us during these 40 days as we join this ancient global movement to get deeper into the mystery of Jesus' death for us. Each week, we'll add a few thoughts and a way to pray to help you make this movement to the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Here is a simple prayer to pray during the beginning of Lent: 

'Lord, have mercy upon me.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon me.

You might be able to pray this simple prayer several times a day. Perhaps, during a short time, such as a ten-minute break, pray the prayer several times consecutively, pausing between each line and between each repetition. As the words of what you are praying to sink in, center on the enormous statement in this simple prayer: you have received mercy! Jesus died to give you mercy. Unbelievable! Living God chose to offer mercy...to me...to you!