Lent is a great time to participate in a fast. It is a time of preparation for the highest holy day in the Christian calendar, Easter. Holy Week and Easter are so important to our faith journey that if we encounter them without taking the time to prepare, we risk not grasping the fullness of God's love and grace. Our hearts, minds, and yes even our bodies need a time of preparation to lead us joyously to the feast, reluctantly to Gethsemane, solemnly to the cross, and jubilantly to the empy tomb.
-Chris Seay, A Place at the Table
The season of Lent begins a week from today on February 22nd. Last year was the first year that our family had participated in Lent. My husband and I grew up in churches that didn't celebrate Lent. It is something that I honestly didn't think about, and didn't really understand. So, last year, as I was reading through the book No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo, and as I read about what it is and what the real purpose of Lent is for followers of Christ, I was convicted about celebrating it. Lent is a time of fasting leading up to the cross recalling Jesus' 40 day fast in the wilderness.I love how Noel Piper describes Lent...
Traditionally Lent is a season of sober, realistic reflection on our own lives and our need for a Savior. It is a time for turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him. It is a time to pray that God renew our love for him and our dependence on him.
I used some of the resources Carol Brazo has in her book and then I found this website that had the readings and templates for the Jesus Tree http://www.ordinarymiracleoflife.blogspot.com/. We were definitely blessed by last year's walk to the cross through the observation of Lent and we can't wait to see how God is going to change us this year. This is what our Jesus Tree looked like last year.
We are adding another aspect to our Lent observance, and it is the book A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay. In the introductory chapters of this book and through the readings that Chris has put together for the 40 days of Lent we are challenged to look beyond ourselves and have a renewed focus on Jesus that will change our lives and the lives of others. Each day in the readings he also includes a country to pray for and the specific needs of the people in that country. Chris asks this question in the book:
Can we embrace the truths of Christ if we do not embrace His posture? His hands were exposed to disease and leprosy as he touched the sick. His knee bent to the ground to wash the sullied feet of his friends. His eyes lifted in prayer to the Father. His body bowed and was broken in death. As we learn to march in step with our Savior, we find that our swagger gives way to a lowly and humble way of walking.
Here is Chris giving an introduction to the 40 days of fasting that he walks through in his book:
We are excited to spend these 40 days in a time of fasting focusing on Jesus and changing our lives to become more like him.