For many of us, Lent is a lost season in the church. I remember it as a kid in the Methodist Church as a time when people would talk about "giving up" strange things like chocolate or caffeine (who in their right mind would do either). But yet, I don't really remember much being said about Lent as a whole.
MOURN BEFORE DEATH
It's a bit backwards, but Lent is actually a season of mourning for the church. It starts with Ash Wednesday. Many church have a special service where we put ashes on a person's forehead in the shape of a cross. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter.
I mentioned it's a bit backwards. You see, the church mourns before Christ's death, in anticipation of it. We know that on Good Friday we will "celebrate" Christ's death and that on Easter Sunday we will come together to rejoice in his resurrection. So that doesn't really leave much time for mourning. Therefore, the Christian church has historically from the very early days chosen to take time in remembrance of Christ's sacrifice to change pace in preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The 40 days comes from the 40 days Jesus himself spent in the wilderness fasting after his baptism alone with God:
THE TRUE PURPOSE
The reality is, we are supposed to change our pace of life during Lent. It's a time of year to us to purposefully stop and focus on all that God has done for us through Christ's sacrifice. It's a time to establish new spiritual habits (or disciplines) in our daily lives to deepen our relationship with God. The fasts are designed to slow down our lives and show us we need God.
As a church, we are going to be doing some things to help you change your pace during Lent. First, we will have an Ash Wednesday service. We are also going to offer a virtual study through email on prayer that will follow the model of the Lord's Prayer. It will be sent out every Friday. You can subscribe to the study below.