If you're like me, then you didn't grow up in a church setting that emphasized (or even mentioned) Lent. I first became aware of "Lent" as a teenager because one of my best friends, a Catholic, couldn't eat meat on Fridays in the weeks leading up to Easter. Maybe you have heard people talk about "giving something up" for Lent but don't know much more about it.
But, a few years ago, I began to practice and celebrate the Lenten season in my personal devotional life. For me, it didn't become just a few weeks to give up a vice or a habit. It has become a season of remembrance, repentance, and renewal.
Lent lasts for 40 days + 6 Sundays. The season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. "Lent" comes from an ancient Anglo word meaning "spring," and the 40 days reminds us of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness as he fasted and prepared for public ministry.
It's true; Lent is not a religious holiday or season found in the Bible. (For that matter, neither are Easter or Christmas). But the grounding principles of Lent couldn't be more Biblical:
Fasting is an ancient biblical practice of denying ourselves our natural needs to tend to our spiritual needs. We don't fast to earn grace or punish ourselves. We fast as an acknowledgment that God is our source and strength. We weaken the physical body to strengthen our spiritual being. We fast so that we might draw away from the world around us and draw deeper into God's presence. During Lent, we turn to God through fasting, desperate for His strength to withstand temptation, to live a life of courageous faith, and to stay dedicated to Him in a difficult world.
Repentance is not something just to be done by sinners when they first come to faith in Christ. Repentance is a healthy spiritual practice for all Christians. There is always room for improvement in how we walk out our faith in righteousness and holiness. John encourages us:
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1.9 (NIV)
So at Lent, we take the opportunity for 40 days to pray, fast, and repent. We focus our scriptural readings on the last few weeks of the earthly ministry of Jesus. We seek to identify with his suffering. We prepare our hearts to join in Christ's suffering, His victory over death, and His mission to renew the world through love.
As a Pentecostal Christian, it suprises me that some of my Spirit-filled brethren vehemently oppose the idea of observing Lent. I guess it all seems a little too "Catholic" or a little too "ritualistic" for them. But these same saints probably attend or lead a church where the practices of fasting and repentance are encouraged regularly. In fact, the current trend is for many Spirit-filled churches to begin the year with an extended season of fasting and prayer.
Lent is simply a season of fasting, prayer, and repentance that occurs in the six weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday. What better way is there to "reset" spiritually before the Easter holiday?
I would love to have you join us in this Lenten Journey!
- Pastor Seth
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Come worship with us. Unique opportunities for worship include:
Ash Wednesday Worship Service
6:30pm - Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Good Friday Worship Service
6:30pm - Friday, April 10th, 2020
Easter Sunday Celebration
10am Free Pancake Breakfast
11am Worship Service
Sunday, April 11th, 2020
Or worship with us any Sunday at 11am!
16194 W Hwy 10
Belleville, AR 72824