What is Lent?
Lent is the 6 week period of time that begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates in the celebration of Easter. Traditionally, it is a period of time for Christians to repent (realign their lives toward God) and personally prepare to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as an action that brings grace and eternal life to each believer.
During the period of Lent it is appropriate to meditate on our personal and corporate sinfulness. Because of this many Christian traditions encourage people to give up something or fast during this period (following Jesus’ pattern of a 40 day fast in Matthew chapter 4) Sometimes, it is appropriate for a person to add something to their life - a daily spiritual practice for example - instead of giving something up. Whatever you add or give up during the Lenten period, it should be something that helps you focus on God.
What does the word Lent actually mean?
It comes from the German word for “Spring” because the 40 days takes place in the Spring (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Originally the Lenten period was called quadragesima, meaning ‘the forty days.’
Aren’t there actually 46 days between Ash Wed and Easter Sunday?
It is tradition not to include Sunday in the count. Sunday is considered to be a day of celebration because it is the day of Jesus’ resurrection and is therefore not included in the days reserved for penitence and fasting.
Is this a Catholic thing?
Although many people associate it with Catholicism, many traditions (including Presbyterians!) celebrate Lent.
GIVE UP SOMETHING GOOD
You are encouraged to give something up for Lent. We all have things that we should give up permanently, rather than just for 40 days. During Lent, however, think of something that you like, something you enjoy, and give that up. Every time you miss what you’ve given up, remind yourself that God is good and provides for your needs. When Easter arrives, take up what you gave up again, and thank God for the gift that it is in your life. If you plan on giving something up, let us know by emailing what you’re giving up to firstname.lastname@example.org
READ THE GOSPEL OF Luke
Luke's gospel is 24 chapters long. Pace yourself, reading a little bit every day. Reserve chapters 22 to 24 for the last few days of Lent leading to Good Friday, then Easter Sunday.
Each Sunday throughout Lent, we will be focussing on a different spiritual practice. You are encouraged to try each practice at least once during that week.
As you do particular spiritual practices consider posting something on Prairie’s Facebook page about your own Lenten Journey: http://www.facebook.com/prairiechurchwinnipeg
FEB 18 - FASTING: GOING WITHOUT TO BE FILLED BY GOD. (ASH WEDNESDAY)
Ash Wednesday Service is at 7:30pm on Feb 18th
Action: Take one day this week and have a true fast from food. Make sure you drink water. Do not use the time you would have had meals to catch up on work. Use them for rejuvenation in some way: prayer, reading the Bible, connecting with a friend, etc.. We encourage you to fast from sunset on Feb 19 to sunset on Feb 20, but you can pick any day this week or any day during Lent.
FEB 22 - SOLITUDE: PRAYER AS BEING WITH AND LISTENING TO GOD
Action: Schedule a full half hour sometime this week to spend in silence, listening for God. Have a pen and paper on hand. If distracting thoughts come into your mind, write them down and forget about them, and try to completely clear your mind and just be with God. When a though comes that you believe is perhaps from God, focus on that thought and repeat it in your mind as you listen.
MARCH 1 - DEVOTIONAL: PRAYING THE SCRIPTURES
Action: Schedule a half hour in your week for reading a short Bible passage. Read it over several times to yourself, and identify a word or a short phrase that sticks out to you. Then repeat that word or phrase over in your mind and let that be your prayer. Give yourself time to listen for God, and it it helps write down your thoughts. If you want, you can get brave and share your thoughts with a friend, or try posting your phrase on Social Media.
MARCH 8 - SABBATH
Action: Actually take a full day off from all work (this includes housework). If possible, even prepare your meals the day before so they can be simply laid out on your Sabbath. Try not to spend money this day either. Have fun, relax, enjoy God’s creation (that’s what God did on the seventh day). This might best be practiced on a Sunday - try it on March 15th.
MARCH 15 - GIVING
Action: Make a true tithe for this week to remind you of your dependence on God. Take some time and figure out what 10% of your income is for one week. Give that much money away - it doesn’t have to all be to the Church. If you already practice giving 10% of your income, pray asking God to show you how to grow in your giving. Is there something extra you are being called to do?
MARCH 22 - WORSHIP
Action: Attend worship on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and plan to attend special one or more special services during Holy Week, or pray the Stations of the Cross.