Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lenten season. The aim of Lent is to take time to meditate on our desperate need for a Savior, to see Him pay the penalty of our sins, to come to Him at the cross, lay our sins upon His shoulders, and experience His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We worship Him in gratitude for all that He has done in order to make our celebration of His resurrection power more meaningful to us as we seek to live lives that glorify Him and advance His kingdom.
Lent helps us wrestle with the truth that is found in the great paradox of the Christian faith: until we die, we cannot truly live. We tend to want to jump to the celebration of the resurrection without taking the time to deal with the necessity and the seriousness of the cross. That is why the early church built Lent into the preaching and devotional calendar. It is true that Lent as we know it is not in the Bible, but the principles of Lent are scattered throughout its pages. Even the number forty (the number of days in Lent) is significant in Scripture, often representing a time of trial (the flood in Gen 6:12), testing (the temptation of Jesus in Matt 4:2), and preparation (the time between the resurrection and the ascension in Acts 1:3).
Therefore, Lent is a season of repentance and preparation during which we weigh the significance of the cross (Good Friday) in anticipation of the Resurrection (Easter Sunday). Lent is designed in such a way that for forty days, believers wrestle with the seriousness of their sin, not to carry the guilt and shame associated with it, but to repent of it, turn it over to Christ, and begin longing for the resurrection power that will one day put that sin behind us for good. It is designed to motivate us to pursue the holiness to which we are called when we are saved. Because themes like sin, repentance, holiness, and sanctification tend to escape our everyday experience, Lent gives the church permission to dive more deeply into these themes, beckoning to those who call themselves Christians to really understand the significance of what it means to be identified with Christ.
We don’t observe Lent in order to appear more spiritual or pious than others. In fact, Lent is supposed to empty us of any pride that we may feel when it comes to being saved and walking with Jesus. It helps us remember that Jesus is the one leading, not us. We are simply following and we are along for the ride. Here at Parkview, we are calling our church family to a season of prayer and fasting. We have Lent Guides available for morning and evening Scripture readings. We will gather during Lent for four Holy Convocations where we will seek the presence of God through singing, prayer, and Scirpture reading. We have challenged our church family to fast during the daylight hours of the Wednesdays of our Holy Convocations (March 2, 16, 30, and April 13).
If you are fasting on these holy convocation days, know that the fast is not designed to earn extra favor with God. It doesn’t make us more spiritual than those who do not fast. Instead, it is a moment to realize that we were never meant to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. In other words, we fast in order to devote more time to prayer and Scripture. Fasting isn’t about us. It is about God and the way we choose to fast is between us and Jesus. We also fast because fasting, or giving up something for Lent, is a way of identifying the idols that seem to seep into our lives. Lent provides a time to tear down those strongholds.
Lent will end on Good Friday, April 15, and Parkview will meet for a Good Friday Communion Service on that day. We will also have morning worship times in our fellwoship hall every day of Holy Week (April 11-15). I hope you will join us on this journey to the cross.