What is Lent? Lent is a 40 day season that begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes at Easter. The Book of Common Prayer starts the Ash Wednesday liturgy (hence begins Lent) with these helpful words: “The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting… In this manner, the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need that all Christians continually have to renew our repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” 

Lent is a very ancient practice (we know that by the early 300’s almost all christians observed Lent) that draws us out of the regular rhythms, habits, and practices that mark our modern life so that we might be reoriented in mind and heart in preparation for the great celebration of the foundation of our faith, Easter. Our hearts and minds are reset by way of a focused time of fasting (giving up otherwise permissible pleasures), prayer, confession, service, and reading scripture. We do not do this to prove our piety or as a self betterment program. Instead we do this so that we might reorient ourselves around the reality of our brokenness in light of our redemption and Christ’s resurrection, which we are preparing to celebrate. 

In some ways, Lent creates a Gospel rhythm to our life that breaks into the often monotonous drumming of our modern existence. It calls us to abandon the allure of distraction and enter a season of simplicity by stripping away certain pleasures, taking time to reflect, and facing into the darkness that taints our life and world. But, as we press into the often dark spaces we would much rather keep tucked away, we are always doing so looking ahead at the horizon, looking toward the risen Lord, the great celebration that lies ahead.

So, during this Lent, I encourage you to let this solemn and simple season wreck your routine so that together we might be reoriented around the profound reality of our redemption that has been purchased by Christ’s death and secured by His physical resurrection. So that through the solemnity of Lent we will then be overwhelmed by the celebration of Easter.

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