INTRODUCTION TO LENT & SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Lent is a season of reflection and preparation in the church year that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. There are a number of ways to understand and approach Lent: as a time of examination and repentance; as a time to remember Jesus in the wilderness and recognize the Lord in our places of wilderness; and as a time to create more room in our lives for God’s work.
This year as a community, we are going to focus on the idea of first, coming to Jesus and then, following him. Following Jesus and becoming like him is not something we do on our own. It’s something that God does in and through us as we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. A good image is one of a sailboat. A sailboat cannot move on its own. It is the wind that moves a boat. But the sails must be up in order to catch the wind. In the same way, we cannot transform ourselves. The Holy Spirit transforms us. Yet we have a part to play: we hoist our sails. Practices, classically called disciplines, are ways in which we “hoist our sails” and allow room for the Spirit to transform us. Engaging with this devotional, which contains suggested practices and daily Scripture readings, is one way to hoist your sails.
Following Jesus and becoming like him is something we do with the Lord, and it is also something we do with each other. God has called us to follow Jesus together. We are gifts from God to each other as we encourage each other, pray together, share our joys and struggles together, and remind each other of God’s truth and grace.
HOW TO USE THIS DEVOTIONAL
The focus is on seven different themes, one each week of Lent: following, meditating, praying, loving others, thanking, mission, and gathering at the cross.
For each week, the devotional information will contain suggested practices to help us engage with the theme of the week. There are two practices for adults and youth and one geared towards children to do with their parents or on their own (though adults are welcome to engage in these as well!). These practices will be explained at the beginning of the week’s devotional reading, and you are encouraged to try 1 or 2 anytime it works for you during the week.
There are daily Scripture readings that follow the weekly theme. Quotes from our church fathers and mothers throughout history are also interspersed. Remember that doing the practices and getting the readings done is not the end goal. The end goal is to fall more deeply in love with Jesus, and to become more like Him. That is our journey. So as you approach the devotional please let go of any “shoulds,” “oughts,” or guilt about getting it done or doing it right, and instead remember that God is pleased that you are creating room to be with Him. God journeys with you and loves you.
Check back tomorrow for the first practice.