LENT (40 days)
LENT in the Church Calendar provides an opportunity to focus on and identify with Jesus’ suffering. Perhaps the number “40” comes from the 40 days that Moses, Elijah, and especially Jesus Christ each spent in the wilderness (Ex 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Mat 4:2). Though it is not required of us from scripture, this time can help to prepare us more deeply for the great celebration of God’s marvelous redemption at Easter time and the hope of the resurrected life it promises.
As we walk the way of the cross, we recognize that it is a time for repentance and renewal. We can do nothing to gain eternal life except by putting our faith in Christ. But, we can draw closer to Him during this time to identify with Him in His suffering.
Four spiritual disciplines are connected with Lent. They are prayer, fasting, spiritual reading and almsgiving. Our lives race faster than our souls can be filled; thus, the call to prayer. Addictions pervade; thus, fasting…what is the idol that consumes us-that we think we cannot live without? Can we part from it long enough to seek Jesus? We are bombarded by the media in every form; thus, the call to spiritual reading and reflection. We are self-centered; thus the call to almsgiving – loving others more than ourselves.
May these days be a special time of repentance and deep renewal: Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” And remember, each Sunday, during this special time, is a small taste of the Resurrection Sunday that’s ahead!
Ruth Tuttle Conard
(*In 2017, Lent begins March 1.)