This day in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of the season of Lent preceding Easter. This first day of Lent reminds us (in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, question and answer #88) that two things are involved in genuine repentance: “the dying of the old self and the coming to life of the new.” The way to Easter is the way of the cross. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3). New life with Christ involves a daily surrendering of the old life.
Looking back at the 50-year history of our church, and our denomination, Lent has figured prominently. Some years our congregants even worked together and made individual contributions to form a daily devotional book to share together. So we decided to encourage participation and self-examination, to embrace the legacy of our forebears as well as tailoring it for our present membership. As a church that loves to focus on the centrality of God’s Word, taking on a discipline of Bible reading together made a lot of sense. That’s why we’ll be reading “Luke for Lent” with scriptures posted daily on our Facebook page, short reflections from the pastor, and a reading list available at services and online. We can engage the life of Jesus leading up to the weekend of his death and resurrection.
To kick things off, we’re having a Lenten Service at the church on March 6th (Ash Wednesday) and all are welcome. We also encourage individuals, households, small groups and friends to consider fasting from certain regular practices and engaging in new, or simply stagnant, spiritual disciplines. Ask the questions – “What is lacking in my spiritual life? Where would I like, and hope, to grow in my faith this year? How might I cling closer to Christ this Easter, and beyond?” Creating the space to ponder, pray and practice may yield what we desire (or ought to desire) as the Lord honors the earnest seeker and gives them the desires of their new, transformed heart.
My wife and I have had the conversations and put aside some things in our lives to make room for this season and new disciplines. We hope many in our congregation will join us as the Lord guides them, and any other friends in faith that see the value in drawing a line, taking the time, and as scripture exhorts us: to test and affirm God’s will. I pray you feel His presence in a fresh, vivacious way this Lenten season and Easter weekend. And I hope others are praying for our family in kind! – Pastor James