14 March 2011

What is Lent?

 None of this is my writing. It was shared by my church- Redemption Hill on our website.

Not only is is fascinating to me, but it proves to me that this RH is our home. We have never been around a more genuine and forward thinking crowd. The Gospel is the life of so many in this church and we feel so blessed to be a part of it

Anyways!- Here is some information about Lent!

Lent is a period of 46 days (40 days not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday  and Easter, originally a period of preparation for those to be baptized at Easter. It later became a time of penitence and self-examination for all Christians. Lent is a word that many people associate with deprivation, self-denial, and drudgery.  But this is far from it’s actual and intended meaning!

The word ‘Lent’ actually means Springtime!  Faithful Christians through the ages have always used the 40 days of Lent to restore vibrancy, life, passion, and vision in their walk with God.The tradition of Lent reflects the wisdom of our Christian ancestors who understood that we seemingly can’t help ourselves when it comes to accepting substitutes for God.   C.S. Lewis, in his famous sermon The Weight of Glory said it well:  “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.  Weare far too easily pleased.”

The forty days of Lent are meant to be symbolic of the forty days spent by Christ in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. By observing Lent, we follow Jesus into the wilderness, resist temptation,pray, and proceed “on the way” to Jerusalem and the cross of Good Friday. However, unlike Jesus, our Lenten journey is one of repentance, that is, changing directions from self, self-serving patterns anda myopic focus on our life, toward the others-focused way of life of following Jesus. On this journey, we follow Jesus in laying down ourselves for others and trust that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is enough to guide us in repentance and renewal. The intervention of God’s gracious Spirit makes life-long changes become possible. Turning from the old self and experiencing a dying of old ways prepares us to truly experience the joy of Easter.

The season of Lent our prayers have repentance astheir focus. First, we own our sin as it shows itself in the different aspects of our being, wrong thinking and attitudes, wrong affections and aspirations, wrong behaviors and actions. Second, we turn from our sin to Christ for forgiveness and strength to change and grow to be more like Him.

Lent is a sober reflection upon our condition, which leads us to faith and fresh trust in and leaning on the finished work of Christ.  The reflection on our sin, our brokenness and all the ways we are tied to and contribute to the brokenness in the world, should serve to increase our gratitude and wonder at the love of God.

For so many, Lent only carries connotations of fasting and self-denial. To be clear, there is a place and call for fasting— from food, from situations, from elements of our environment. However, as Thomas Chalmers reminds us in his sermon, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, the rooting out of the sinful elements of the world is best accomplished by replacing that desire with something more powerful and desirable—the Gospel. Maturity is not just turning away from sin but rather it is the declaration of a dependance upon all that God is for you in Jesus...it’s the power of grace becoming a renewed affection for you.
You can never replace something with nothing. With that in mind, it is better to not be so caught up in the idea of giving things up for Lent as much as leaning into the disciplines of grace—prayer, fasting, acts of mercy, meditating on the Word of God, the sacraments and the communion of the saints.Thomas Chalmers also wrote: “In bygone days when God’s covenant people sought to strengthen their piety, to sharpen their effectual intercessions, and give passion to their supplications, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When intent upon seeking the Lord God’s guidance in difficult after-times, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they were wont to express grief—whether over the consequences of their own sins or the sins of others—they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they sought deliverance or protection in times of trouble,they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they desired to express repentance, covenant renewal, and a return to the fold of faith, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. Such is the call upon all who would name the name of Jesus. Such is the ordinary Christian life.”

The following outline for this period of prayer and reflection is intended to assist you as you along the way. It is not meant to be a new legalism. But let’s face it, we often need help in focusing on what is truly important and in laying aside distractions... and this guide is designed to provide that help. Use as much or as little of this as seems appropriate for you.
May this season be a “springtime of faith” for us all. Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.

—Martin Luther Our Lenten Rhythm: A New Twist on an Ancient Practice
This season let’s try something new...not for the sake of new or because the old way is broken. But in an effort to be more holistic and intentional, let’s strike an intentional rhythm to the steps of our journey to the cross.

This year our Lenten journey will look like:
Weekly Fasts
Each week, we’ll be fasting from a particular pleasure. Lent Sundays are “Feast” days when in celebration of the goodness Jesus brings, we break our fasts. Do each fast for the week and only for that week; or, consider letting them build on each other, so that by the end of Lent, you are doing all six weekly fasts at the same time.
Daily Readings & Prayers 
Our daily rythmn will be reading & reflection one day, prayer the next. On one day, you’ll read a passage of Scripture and reflect on a specific aspect of it. On the next day, you’ll use the Lord’s prayer as a guide to pray through what you’ve discovered about your heart the day before. For example, on Day 1 there is a reading on simplicity with questions designed to help you wrestle with what things end up ‘owning you’. On day 2, you would pray through the Lord’s Prayer with the intention of letting each petition shape and challenge what you discovered in your heart the day before.
Corporate Prayer/Feasting Days
On Lent Sunday,  feast days, we will all be using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide to pray for Redemption Hill. When possible, do this with members of the Redemption Hill community in connection with feasting in anticipation for the ‘great feast’ that is Easter.

As a way of being accountable: 
Share your intentions for Lent on The City, with your housemates/family, with your community group
or a friend.

As we observe Lent, here are some other helpful practices to put into
the rhythm of your daily life:
• Read through one of the Gospels between now and Easter.
• If you don’t already journal, begin now. Reflect on your readings,
  prayers and questions.
• Find a way to go to bed earlier, get enough rest and rise earlier.
• Make a list of people with whom you need to be reconciled. Pray for them
  and let Jesus guide you in your thinking and feeling toward them.
• List the priorities in your life at the beginning of Lent. Revisit at the end.

If you want to read any more or just check out an amazing church Check out Redemption Hill