The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word which means “spring”. It is a time we remember and try to live out the victory of Jesus over sin and death. It’s our hope that as we go through this season of Ash Wednesday (March 5th) to Easter (April 20th), that you would remember both how sinful we all are and how we have been raised to life in Christ.
There is a lot of confusion in churches about Lent so let me try to clear things up. Yes, the Bible doesn’t require us to recognize seasons like Lent or Advent. In fact, both are man-made creations. In Romans 14:5, Paul tells us that the way we celebrate holy days is up to each believer. He writes,
The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord (Rom. 14:6)
So we believe that any practice of Lent must be done in a way that honors the Lord. Anything we do much be connected to repentance from the heart. The only value from Lent or any other thing we do is if it is done with a heart that loves God.
That being said, there is value in setting aside a time to focus on God. In the same way that we prepare for the big events in life, take weddings or birthdays for example, we want to get ready to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. Pastor Denny explains some more of the details here…
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and culminates with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection on Easter. Ash Wednesday, like Lent, is also practiced in a number of different traditions. And again, there is a lot of misunderstanding about it’s purpose so some of us at Emmanuel might also wonder why we are practicing Ash Wednesday this year.
We use ashes because it’s a picture rooted in the Old Testament to show deep repentance. Daniel, for example, fasted while wearing ashes after reading the book of Jeremiah and realizing Israel would be exiled 70 years for their sins. (Daniel 9:3) Ashes also remind us of our mortality and that God tells us to “…number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”. (Psalm 90:12)
So as we start the season of Lent, we are beginning in repentance for our sin knowing that life is found only in Jesus. “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
We will put ashes on our foreheads in the shape of either a cross or a fish.
We will pray and confess our sins.
We will believe in Jesus, the resurrection and the life.
We will start again to focus on God and live differently.
One way we hope to start living differently is following an Action Calendar. It has suggestions for ways to start living differently by focusing on Giving Up and Taking Up. Here is the calendar if you want to following along…
REMEMBER, ANYTHING WE DO MUST BE CONNECTED TO REPENTANCE FROM THE HEART. THE ONLY VALUE FROM LENT OR ANY OTHER THING WE DO IS IF IT IS DONE WITH A HEART THAT LOVES GOD.
**Click on the button on the bottom right of the calendar to add it to Google Calendar. Or click here for iCal.