In accordance with the Liturgical calendar we stand upon the door steps of the Season of Lent. Lent commences on March 5th which is known in some Protestant circles as Ash Wednesday according to the Western Christian calendar. Occurring 46 days before Easter, it is a moveable fast that can fall as early as February 4 and as late as March 10. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence. Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. Sundays are not included in the fasting period and are instead "feast" days during Lent. I love the historical nature of Lent because it displays to us the enormity of the religion of Christianity and how we are connected to the larger family of our faith.
Lent (Latin: Quadragesima - English: Fortieth) is sacred time of religious observance that ends on Easter Sunday. During the Lenten season Christians as an act of preparation engage in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, penance, and repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the Bible beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus' crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we observe Lent as a local congregation this season can be used as sacred and significant time of spiritual renewal, rejuvenation, revival, restoration and refreshing. Typically during Lent it is customary to give up something during this time. Whether it's desserts, social media, technology and countless other things that may take our attention away from focusing on God; the purpose of the season of Lent is to further our own personal discipleship and empower our collective public witness as believers. Lent challenges us to deny ourselves in order to find ourselves closer and more open to the revelation of God in our lives. My prayer is that we would use the season of Lent as a moment of transformation as we fast, pray, offer penance to God, and every other spiritual practices that places God and humanity before our wants and needs. In Mark 8:34 our Lord and Liberator Jesus of Nazareth offered this disclaimer to anyone who seeks to follow Him, "And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let them first deny themselves". During the Lent let us deny ourselves as a discipline to access the power of God in our lives, our familes, our church, and our communities.