What's the Deal with Lent Anyway?

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:

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
— Matthew 3:16-4:2, NLT

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.

Everyday Habits for Married Couples

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
— Matthew 19:4-6, NLT

PRIORITIES

The other day, I read an article in RELEVANT Magazine called 5 Things Married Couples Should Do Every Day. God created us to live in relationship with other people, but there is one relationship that is above all others, our marriage. God calls us to put God first, our spouse second, then our relationships with our children, friends, etc. third, fourth, and fifth. (Don't put your spouse above your safety. If you are living in an abusive relationship, seek assistance now!)

I was reading another article this week in Mothering Magazinefrom a mom talking about how her sexual life with her husband has changed after having children. One thing stood out to me in the article. She said, “our bed is no longer just ‘ours.’” This phrase got me thinking about how many of us put our children above our marriage. Here are some ways that you can put your spouse above your other relationships.

WHAT TO DO

RELEVANT lists 5 things that every couple must do:

  1. Connect Spiritually: This could be praying together daily, talking about what you've read in your quiet time, attending a Growth Group together, or studying the Bible together.

  2. Communicate Meaningfully: Take time every day to talk about things that truly matter. RELEVANT suggests these questions: "What was the best part of your day today?" or "What's something I can do to help you out this week?" A friend of mine uses these questions with her husband: "What are you laughing about? What are you crying about? What are you dreaming about?"

  3. Touch Often: Make time every day to have physical touch, whether it's cuddling on the couch watching TV or while reading or even setting up a date night and time for intimacy.

  4. Confess and Forgive: Have a safe space to share things that need confessing and forgive often. When you start keeping up with "he did this" and "she did that" you will quickly damage your relationship.

  5. Get Away: Make time to spend just the two of you. It could be a home date after the kids go to bed, planning a date night, or taking a weekend getaway. Make your marriage a priority.

  6. We'd like to help you make your marriage a priority. There is a powerful marriage retreat coming up in November in Destin called A Weekend to Remember. Get away and come together. Early bird registration ends October 3rd. My husband and I have been and can personally attest to how wonderful the weekend is.

Challenge today: Find a new way to show your spouse that you love them and are thinking about them.