Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. The first Day of Lent. Lent, is my favorite season of the church. It is a time of 40 days before Easter we, the church, set aside for self-reflection, prayer, fasting as Jesus did for 40 days in the wilderness after he was baptized before he began his ministry, and as the Israelite spent 40 years in the desert before entering the promise land. I would like us as ODC to spend these forty days praying over ODC, and each of our roles and calling in this church and in Christ.
Jesus, at the beginning of the Lord's Supper states, "And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luk 22:15) Jesus in complete love earnestly desired to be with and reach out into the lives of those around him. And he earnestly desires to be with you. A good question for each of us to honestly discern this Lent is, "What do I earnestly desire?" Because what you desire will control the one thing that controls everything else in your life, your heart.
In Lent, People traditionally give up or take on something. The giving up of something, or taking on of something, is to aid us in daily focusing in on Christ, his life, his sacrifice, his death and his resurrection at Easter, and how we are to live into the salvation these events provided for us. Please post what you are going to give up and/or take on during Lent so we can pray each other.
What is Lent? At Jesus' baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased." Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit. Where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. During his time there he was tempted by Satan and found clarity and strength to resist temptation. Afterwards, he was ready to begin his ministry. Maybe Jesus needed some time with God to sort through the major changes happening in his life. Maybe he needed to get away from family, friends and the familiar routine in order to see God (and himself) more clearly. Perhaps he wanted some intentional time with God as he searched for direction and answers like you. Like Jesus, we may need to take some serious time to pray and listen for God.
During Lent, most Christians use three things as aides to help them focus, listen and pray to God.: Fasting, Service/taking on things, and Prayer
FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that's not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, tv, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do? Read Isaiah chapter 58
SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can take on more times set aside to read your Bible. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to tutor children, or work for reform and justice in your community. You can commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend every day of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God. Read Isaiah chapter 58.
PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can set aside times to pray daily, prayer walk, use the Prayer Wheel daily, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.
ODC is holding an Ash Wednesday gathering at our home tomorrow evening at 6:30pm. You are welcomed to attend. I hope you will attend the gathering at your church or one in your community.
Post your thoughts and reflections and what you are giving up or taking on so we can pray over them.