Introduction to Lent

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Yesterday marked the beginning of Lent, the forty days prior to Easter (excluding Sundays).  We will observe the season with new stage colors, sermons about Jesus' teachings on repentance, and weekly emails and blog posts to help you draw near to the Lord and prepare for Easter.

Lent is often thought of as a time of giving up some "guilty pleasure" in order to show our devotion to God.  Chocolate, alcohol, sodas, and red meat usually top the list of Lenten fasts.  However, God makes plain that fasting for the sake of fasting doesn't impress him.  Instead, He wants us to fast from sin and then to feast on showing love to our neighbors, especially those most burdened by pain, poverty, and injustice (Isaiah 58:1-12).  When we tie fasting to this great purpose, amazing transformation can take place.  We can connect our physical hunger to God's Kingdom - using our stomachs and taste buds to remind our hearts to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Much of our repentance is reactive, turning back to God after we have sinned.  Lent, however, enables us to repent proactively, before we have done something wrong.  Lent gives us an extended period of time in which to take stock of our hearts, to reflect on the perfection and amazing mercy of Jesus, and to ask him to align our desires with his own.  Used properly, Lent not only prepares us to celebrate Easter but to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.  What could be more precious?

As a church not accustomed to observing Lent, our first efforts may seem awkward.  Remember, however, that God always draws near to those who draw near to Him (James 4:8), and always rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  He does not demand that we "get it right," only that we move towards Him in faith, knowing that He is pleased with our repentance because of Jesus.  Let's seek His face together in this season of renewal!

Grace and Peace,
John