Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17th, and ends on Holy Saturday, April 3rd. Our Lenten season of worship will conclude with a Good Friday service on April 2nd. All of the Lenten season is meant to prepare us for the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 4th, 2021! More details on the Good Friday and Easter services will be available soon.
Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, typically marked by fasting, reflection, and penitence. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40-ish days. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which ends with Easter Sunday, otherwise known as Resurrection Day.
The Christian year—according to the traditional church calendar—revolves around two high holidays: Christmas and Easter. Advent is a season of preparation for the celebration of Jesus' coming (and his future second coming), while Lent prepares us to remember and celebrate Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The word Lent is derived from the Middle English word lente and Old English word lencten, which mean "the season of spring," or "lengthening of days."
When fasting, we train our bodies to resist its compulsive desires. We don't fast because food is bad, or because entertainment is never a good thing. Instead, we fast as a way of disciplining our minds and bodies to resist temptation, to discover new opportunities to turn to God in prayerful dependence, and to remind ourselves that we are not slaves to our sinful appetites (again, nothing against food!). As a church, we ask you to consider using the season of Lent to practice a fast of some sort: skipping a meal once a week, giving up sweets or caffeine for the whole season, or abstaining from social media or other forms of entertainment. A suggested weekly fast will be included in the Lenten Devotionals, which come out each Sunday morning of Lent.
Our prayer is that fasting, prayer, and reading the Scriptures will allow us to enter a season of increased penitence. As our hearts are prepared to focus on the grace of Jesus' cross, we can joyfully pray that God will turn our hearts toward him in repentance. Notice how Isaiah thinks about his worshipful fasting in connection with his need to repent and live rightly:
Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?[b]
8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:5–8 (CSB)
This Lent, let us look closely as the conditions of our hearts. Let us grow closer to God by giving up certainly worldly pleasures, and let us turn toward in him in repentance as we prepare to celebrate the central event of human history—the empty tomb!
- Consider fasting from sweets, except for Sundays (which are days of celebration!)
- Abstain from eating meat on Fridays (or skip a meal altogether)
- Find new ways to be generous toward those in need
- Spend time reading with special attention the Gospel narratives about the final week of Jesus' life
- Try practicing a form of prayer known as the Daily Examen
- Reflect deeply on any ongoing sin in your life, and daily take that to God in repentance
- The Lent Experience by Eric Ferris (RightNow Media)
- It is Finished by David Dorn (RightNow Media)
- Lent and Easter Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen by Judy Bauer
- Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter by Various
- To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration by Gertrud Mueller Nelson
- Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
- Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home by Traci Smith
- An Lenten playlist on Spotify
- An Lenten playlist on Apple Music
- No. 3: Lord, Have Mercy, album by A New Liturgy
- Quietime Lent, album by Eric Nordhoff
- Lenten Hymns, Vol. 1, album by Aaron Hale
- Poets & Saints, album by All Sons and Daughters
- Brother, album by The Brilliance
- Podcast : Ash Wednesday + Fasting + Discernment with Jenn Giles Kemper and Lacy Clark Ellman on the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast
- Podcast : Lent + Prayer with Jenn Giles Kemper and Lacy Clark Ellman on the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast
- Podcast : Lent + Almsgiving with Jenn Giles Kemper and Lacy Clark Ellman on the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast
- Podcast : Holy Week + Easter + Prayer with Jenn Giles Kemper and Lacy Clark Ellman on the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast
- An Lenten playlist on Spotify