Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Western Christian calendar. These 40 days (excluding Sundays) culminate in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Lent is about preparation, self examination and meditation on Jesus’ life and suffering. It’s about journeying with him to become like him. It’s about taking up our cross prior to being raised with him. Before being raised to life on Sunday, Jesus was lifted up on Friday.
Our culture shuns anything that remotely hints of denial. “Why should I have to give up anything?” we ask, if not with words then through how we conduct our lives. Examining the deep inner contours of our hearts is not something we do naturally – yet it is what followers of Jesus have done for centuries during this season and have found deep life in the process. This, of course, is the point. Lent is about finding life – finding the true source of life – the very author of life himself. In Lent we give up other embraces to make room to be more fully be embraced by Jesus.
This season, you may want to embark on a journey asking the question, “what in my life is crowding out the very source of life?” This is the essence of fasting – another practical marker of Lent. Jesus wants to bring us to a place of being more fully alive and yet he won’t do it without our partnership. As we posture ourselves toward him, the Holy Spirit will transform our self-centred lives into new lives of community and justice. Lent prepares us to live worshipful lives of compassion, generosity and all embracing love. This sounds like a good definition of being fully alive to me – how about you?
Here are a few resources that may help you on the journey:
Lent: the road to the Cross – a booklet prepared by the Vineyard UK.
Pray As You Go – a daily contemplative podcast that leads the listener through a series of meditative prayers and scripture readings. Each episode is about 10 – 13 minutes long. You can listen right from their website or subscribe to it via iTunes podcasts.
Lent for Everyone – this is an online devotional created by N.T. Wright. It includes daily scripture and a well crafted and thoughtful devotion by one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time. (You have to sign up to view it)
Living Lent Daily – features prayers, thoughts and more each day to inspire you throughout your Lenten journey. A new article will become available daily throughout Lent. These are quite short.