Preparing for Lent

Wes CrawfordCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Today’s guest post is by Worship Pastor Wes Crawford.

“Unfortunately some Christians live as though the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened. Our lives become absorbed in the day-to-day experiences of life…. We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer, replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that does something about this situation. It calls us back to God, back to basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls on us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord – the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life.”  
—Robert Webber (from Ancient Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year)

Since ancient times the church has observed a season of fasting and intentional austerity, consisting of the forty days (plus Sundays) leading up to Easter. This season began as a forty-day period of preparation and instruction for baptismal candidates, but eventually came to be observed by baptized Christians as a way of preparing our hearts to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ death and resurrection. To be a Christian necessarily involves a heart posture of repentance from sin and the inclination of faith toward God. Though Christians are always called to this heart posture, the season of Lent provides us space to practice that repentance with our bodies as well. A sustained consideration of our creaturely mortality and our moral culpability leads us to to repentance, to renewed discipline, and to worship of our crucified and risen Lord.

It’s in thatAs a parish, we will corporately observe Lent together in various ways. We will begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday services on March 6th at 12pm and 7pm at Christ Church. Church of the Cross will join us as we engage in prayer and song together and receive the imposition of the ashes. Then, throughout the season of Lent, we have chosen to read together The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHugh (all the copies we had out last Sunday were bought, so feel free to grab it from your retailer of choice). We are hosting two different art exhibitions by an artist named Millie Watters (opening reception TOMORROW EVENING from 5:30–8:30pm!), as well as displaying our Stations of the Cross series by Jim Janknegt. Finally, look for more details coming soon about Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services during Holy Week.

As individuals and families, I would encourage you to put some thought into how you might practice the observance of Lent through fasting and discipline. The idea behind fasting is to identify something in your life that you tend to use to avoid feeling deeply or facing reality. This might be certain types of food, social media, alcohol, Netflix or anything to which you find yourself turning for distraction or self-medication. Since every Sunday is a resurrection feast for Christians, you might suspend your fast on Sundays. Or, if a 40-day fast is intimidating to you, you might choose one day each week to abstain. The point is to cultivate a hunger for God by taking away something in our lives that’s not necessarily bad or sinful, but might be satisfying us in a superficial way where God wants to satisfy our souls deeply. For families, this can lead to great conversation as the season progresses about how we are each experiencing the fast and how God is speaking to each of us.

You also might consider engaging in a particular discipline to cultivate affections for and obedience to God. Some decide to engage in some kind of service to others, while others decide to begin a regular practice of daily prayer or to read a portion of the scriptures. Our diocese has posted several resources here and here, and our province has posted some areas where you might consider giving to ministries serving the poor here. Finally, An American Lent is a curriculum for promoting relational healing in our nation through daily readings on racial reconciliation.

Whatever ways you choose to observe the season of Lent, let aim together to cultivate deeper affections for our glorious God and to practice our faith in such a way that his glory is seen in our lives and in our world.

Wes Crawford

P.S. It’s not too late to submit a giving pledge for 2019!