You may still be recovering from Christmas, but Lent is nearly here! Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and this year it falls on February 10th. But what is Lent all about?
Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.
Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. It is commonly observed by many Christian denominations—Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and others—although not every Christian church or denomination does so. Because Lent is not officially instituted in Scripture, observing it isn’t in any way a “requirement” of Christianity. However, Christians from many different theological persuasions choose to observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.
There are a number of resources available to help you mark Lent … these are just a few suggestions.
Love Life Live Lent is a Church House Publishing project that suggests 40 simple choices and actions for each day of Lent to make the world a better place. Each action is accompanied by a Bible verse and a short reflection.
Count your Blessings from Christian Aid is a calendar with daily bite-size reflections to inspire you to give, act and pray to bring justice to our world and change the lives of people living in poverty across the globe. Click on the link for your free download – available in adult or youth version.
Journey to the Cross is a more lengthy devotional available as a free pdf. Download to your computer or on your Kindle to use throughout the season.
Each week focuses on a different theme (e.g., repentance, humility, suffering, lament, sacrifice, death), and each day follows a distinct pattern: Call to Worship, Confession, Contemplation, and Closing Prayer. “Lent is about Jesus,” the authors contend, and with each element “our aim is to reflect meaningfully on his journey to the cross, so that we might take up our cross and follow him.” (TGC article)
And finally, Reflections for Lent is available as a booklet, or as an app for Android or iOS.
Covering Monday to Saturday each week, it offers reflections on readings from the Common Worship Lectionary.
Each day includes:
* Full lectionary details for Morning Prayer
* A reflection on one of the Bible readings
* A Collect for the day.
It also features a simple form of morning and night prayer and a guide to keeping a good Lent.
Whatever you decide to do, marking Lent as a spiritual discipline enhances our understanding and experience of Easter as the central festival of our Christian faith. So choose one of the above, but don’t follow it alone: find a way of sharing your experience of Lent with others … watch this space for suggestions!
See more about Lenten traditions here