Greetings from the heart of Downtown Memphis!
As you may know, today is Ash Wednesday! Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a period of forty days preceding Easter Sunday called Lent. The season of Lent has been set apart by Christ followers for many centuries as a vital time of reflection, repentance, and redemption. In the early years of the Christian church, Lent was often used as a time of preparation and testing for those desiring to come into the Christian faith as well as a time of restoration for those who had been removed from the Christian community. For all followers of Christ, Lent was to be used as a time of deep introspection into one’s sinful nature for the purpose of leading one to repentance and a closer intimacy with God.
Unfortunately, many believers have allowed Lent to be merely a time to “give up” something we feel should be set aside. It has often become for many just another diet plan for a short period of time.
While fasting and abstaining from various physical desires is apart of the Lenten tradition, these disciplines were always meant to serve as reminders of our deeper spiritual desires and needs that all to often are neglected. The Apostle Paul often uses imagery of “putting off” things which bind us and hinder our intimacy with God as well as “putting on” that which draws us nearer in relationship to God.
As we begin this journey of Lent together this year, I’d like to challenge all of us not to merely focus on a few bad habits we want to take a break from. Let’s all use this time together to take and extended inventory of our lives in Christ and set our minds on putting in place different disciplines and practices of the faith we know will draw us closer to Him.
A few examples might be:
- Spending at least fifteen minutes each day reading the bible followed by fifteen minutes of journaling and praying responding to what you read.
- Choose five persons you know don’t attend church to pray for everyday during lent and invite at least one of them to Worship this Easter.
- If you are not already, determine one way you can regularly and consistently help someone else you are not already helping. (Prayer really helps finding these people).
- Commit yourself to attending church each Sunday during Lent and fully participate in your heart and voice in all aspects of the worship service.
The list of possibilities is endless. Make sure you don’t miss out on a great opportunity become more intentional in your relationship with Christ as we make our way towards the triumphal celebration of Easter.