What is Lent?
Lent is a Christian season of practice, celebrated by some Christians though not all. It’s not a prescription for holiness, but an invitation to relationship. Lent has its roots in the very early church, with some of those roots in preparation for baptism. During Lent the Scriptures remind us of God’s expectations for Israel, Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and his journey to the cross.
Why do we celebrate/observe Lent?
Lent is a time for us to focus on Jesus and our Christian discipleship. What does it mean to follow the One who lived, died and rose from the dead for our salvation?
Lent is a chance for us to practice, every year, focusing on God in Christ. We remember God as immersed in earthly life with our earthly practices.
One of the most common Lenten practices is fasting. This can mean giving up certain foods or habits like expensive coffee or cigarettes and donating the money to helping others. One of the questions we must ask is: Are we practicing the fast God calls for? Is it a fast that reminds us to love God and love neighbors as ourselves? Are we focused on God’s work and Jesus’ ministry to the poor, vulnerable, oppressed, sick and lonely? Are we practicing love, kindness, justice and mercy?
By fasting, we practice denying the self not just for the heck of it or to drop 10 pounds, but for the purpose of shifting our attention to Jesus. It’s a question of vision, of focus. Are our hearts curved in upon themselves, or are our hearts open to God?
But Lent is not just about fasting, or giving up something. It can be about taking or adding something. For some, Lent can be a time of adopting a new practice. This can mean engaging in walking prayer, Bible study or some other active habit that trains us in a certain direction and focuses us on Christ.
How many days is it, anyway?
Lent is 40 days long, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday. But if you count the days on the calendar, that’s more than 40. That’s because Sundays are excluded. They’re considered “mini-Easters,” since they’re the day of resurrection. So, no fasting on Sundays!
Is Lent biblical?
As with many Christian practices, the fruitful question to ask is: Is it biblically based? Is “Lent” in Scripture as a word or as a church practice? No. But it is biblically based. Our call to justice and mercy runs throughout the Old and New Testaments, as does the practice of fasting. Jesus teaches what he learned, that to love God is to love neighbor.
Some people give up chocolate or other things. Why?
To be a disciple requires discipline. Discipline is intended to help us practice how to follow a teacher or a teaching. How do we change our habits? By practice. The practice is not learning how to give up chocolate. Instead, giving up chocolate can help us practice channeling our energy and actions toward and for God.
We give things up or take on practices because we need to learn again and again that we live and move and breathe and have our being in God. In either case, the point is to draw closer to God as Jesus draws nearer to the cross.
Giving Up: Certain Foods, Habits, Gossip, Television, Social Media, Swearing
Taking On: Community Building, Daily Bible Reading, Prayer, Serving Others, Delighted in God’s Gifts, Appreciating Creation
Lenten Bible Study and Holy Week Worship Services
We will have a Lenten Bible Study on Zoom each Wednesday of Lent at 6:30 pm, with other Presbyterian churches of the Presbytery except Holy Week. If you would like to join, the church office can send you the Zoom link.
Our Maundy Thursday is on April 1, at 6:30 pm, in person/Facebook Live. Holy Communion will be celebrated.
On Good Friday, April 2, you will have two opportunities for worship on-line. The Redwood Area Ministerial Service is broadcasting one at noon as well as the Presbyterian pastors of Redwood Falls, Windom, St. Cloud, Foley, Randall and Baxter also at noon. Details of how to watch the services will be given later.
On Easter Sunday worship service will be at 10:15 am, in person/Facebook Live. Holy Communion will be celebrated.
May this Lenten season bring you closer to God!
In Christ’s love, Pastor Scott