Party hard on Fat Tuesday before giving up all the fun for Lent so God will be happywith us. For many, this is how they view the season of Lent. It is lame, pointless, ritual. But this is not so different from how many Christians view fasting, giving, serving, praying, etc, is it? We begrudgingly put in our dues and hope God is pleased to overlook our sin. Of course, these are Satan’s lies, the very ones which led the Pharisees to crucify Jesus.
Ironically, it is this very crucifixion which allows our God to truly overlook our sin. He does not look at our sacrifices and deem our sins forgivable. No. Never. He looks at the death of Jesus on our behalf and sees those of us who have faith as perfect, forgiven and clean. This is grace, and it makes us want to put to death the sin that still entangles us. This is the true purpose of Lent.
Karis, we want to invite you to participate with us in observing the season of Lent. For 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13), we will join together as a church and seek the Lord as we prepare for Easter Sunday.
Lent will look different for each of us depending on our circumstances. Yet here are a few practical ways we will observe Lent as a church.
First, in the Sunday Gatherings, we will focus on confession of sin and repentance, specifically our failure to be faithful missionaries. So come asking God to show us our sin and grant us repentant hearts and lives. We will dedicate a portion of each service to silent confession of sin. Also, use the time in your Missional Communities and at home to confess sins to God and one another.
Second, we will focus on prayer. As most of you know, we are a couple of weeks into our By Name initiative where we, as a church, are praying every day for 7 weeks for the salvation of specific people. We ask you to continue to do this, yet during Lent, we will carve out even more time to seek the Lord on behalf of these people, asking him to give us the courage to share the gospel with them.
Third, we will go through this guide together. Sign up for the mailing list and you will receive a free devotional for Lent. It is an excellent resource that will help you understand your heart and seek the Lord.
Fourth, we will fast. We are asking you to look at ways that you spend significant time doing non-essential things, and cut one or more of those things from your life for 40 days. The purpose of this is to specifically devote that time to prayer. Many people fast from certain foods during Lent, and that may be something you want to do also. However, fasting without prayer is just dieting. This year, we want to look at things that waste our time. I personally will be cutting any internet use that is not absolutely essential for work and life. That means no Facebook, no comics, and certainly no GIFs. For some of you, it could be a certain TV show or an activity or an extra hour of sleep.
But let us not do this out of obligation or to earn God’s favor. Let us use this new-found time to pray, worship, confess sin, and plead earnestly with God to rid our lives of idols and to grant us repentance.
Finally, from Good Friday to Easter, those of us who are able will fast from all foods. This will begin after the Good Friday Gathering and we will break our fast with a celebratory feast after church on Easter Sunday.
Karis, will you join us in boldly seeking the Lord this Lent?