Lent

5 Purposes of Lent

Lent 2019 begins March 6 and ends April 18

Ash Wednesday (March 6 this year) marks the beginning of a season in the Church called “Lent” that runs for the 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter. Though practiced by Christians for centuries, Lent can be confusing and opaque, and may leave you wondering, “What is Lent really about anyway?”. To help, here are five purposes for celebrating Lent:

First, Lent provides time to meditate on Christ’s suffering and death. You cannot have resurrection without death, but in our haste to jump to the happy ending, we rush over the immense suffering of Christ on the cross. This Lent, re-read the story of his death slowly. Place yourself in those excruciating hours leading up to his death so as to feel the weight of his sacrifice for you.

Second, Lent begs us to reflect on our own sin. Perennially forgetful creatures, we regularly lose sight of the ways we fall short of the glory of God and the magnitude of the mess and brokenness of our lives. Lent reminds us that not only did we need to be saved (past tense), but we need God to save us from our sin every moment of every day. Pride, selfishness, greed, lust, anger, slander, and a host of other sin still battles inside us against the Spirit. Lent refocuses our attention on this reality and encourages us to cry out to God daily for his salvation.

Third, Lent reminds us of our mortality. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are the words spoken at a traditional Ash Wednesday service. We tend to overestimate the significance, impact, and length of our lives, when in actuality we are simply dust formed by God that will one day return to the ground. We are like a mist that vanishes, or the grass which withers. This may sound morbid and depressing, but by focusing this Lent on your own mortality, you can be freed from your ego’s crushing weight.

Fourth, Lent trains us to live in simplicity for the sake of Christ and others. Often people “give up” something for Lent, choosing to refrain from chocolate, or deny themselves soda. Lent models itself after Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, where he denied himself all comforts, and thus is about self-denial. But it is not asceticism for asceticism’s sake. Rather, Lent is a time to give up comforts, pleasures, and indulgences so that you might focus on God more fully, and love your neighbor more readily. For instance, you could give up TV so you can read your Bible and pray more consistently, or give up your daily Starbucks drink so you could give that money to someone in need.

Fifth, Lent deepens our experience of Easter. You cannot have the good news without the bad news. After we spend these forty days focused on our mortality and sin, Christ’s death for us, and his call for us to deny ourselves to follow him, the good news of the resurrection of Christ (and ours with him!) grabs our hearts and souls fresh again.

With these purposes in mind, we pray this Lent that you will encounter Christ deeply in a new way.

Lent Resources

RightNow Media

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It is Finished
It Is Finished by pastors David Dorn and Jason Nelson from The Woodlands United Methodist Church is a six-lesson study built around the final words of Jesus from the cross. Jesus' last words are powerful teaching moments that if unpacked, can radically shape our lives as we learn what it means to be human and the limitless love of God. Each lesson dives into the historical and practical significance surrounding each of Jesus' phrases while the study guide gives the viewer different spiritual practices to participate in throughout Lent.  

Wounded
We all know what it is like to be wounded. We are no strangers to suffering and pain. Branded and bruised, we carry the wounds that this broken world has inflicted on us, as we desperately try to find the cure for all this pain. Yet in our constant pursuit for healing, God keeps calling us to Himself. He reminds us that true healing is found not in digging deeper into our own wounds but into the wounds of the One who lived and died for us. Wounded takes us back to the Scriptures where we find Jesus, the true source of healing. We are reminded that through the cross God made a way for our restoration. This way is not marked by people who have worked themselves into wholeness but by a perfect Healer who laid down His life so that the fatally wounded could live. It is by His wounds that we are healed.  

Secret Church: The Cross of Christ
In Secret Church 6 David Platt examines the cross of Christ from a number of different angles. We'll consider the reality of the cross (Scripture's teaching on the circumstances surrounding Christ's crucifixion), the history of the cross (the ways in which the cross has been understood throughout church history), the meaning of the cross, the journey to the cross (during Christ's final hours), the intent of the cross, and the effects of the cross. We'll see why our salvation and all of history is determined by the death of Christ over two thousand years ago.  

8 Day Revolution
The four Gospels teach us that Jesus officially begins His preparation for burial on the Friday He enters Bethany and claims His work finished the following Friday in Jerusalem while dying on the cross. And although the Gospel evangelists don't say one word about what Jesus is doing on Saturday or Wednesday, these eight days are worthy of our utmost attention and reflection, for in this brief period of time (from Friday to Friday), Jesus revolutionized the world in eternally significant ways.

YouVersion Bible Reading Plans

Journeying With Jesus — 40 Day Lent Devotional
‘Journeying With Jesus’ is a Bible plan to help us walk with Jesus through the last two chapters of Matthew. We stop to focus on Jesus' last days on this earth and what that means to us. How does that change who I am and Whose I am today? We will take time to dwell on Scripture and “bring it home” with questions that make us consider where we are on the journey of knowing Jesus. (40 days)

Lent Journey — 2016
Lent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Easter. Lent Journey consists of 47 devotions to accompany us on this journey. We are invited to the undertake the journey with Jesus and thereby prepare ourselves for the two big events that are the pillars of our belief system - the crucifiction and the resurrection. (47 Days)