It is hard to believe we are already getting ready for Lent. At least the Super Bowl is over before we step into the more reflective time of Lent. The Lenten season is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. So, how do we commemorate, celebrate, or experience the Lenten season?
Lent is not a season we commemorate because it isn’t primarily something we remember in the past. Each year we experience Lent anew. Lent isn’t something we celebrate, because it is a recognition of suffering and sinfulness. It is not a “yahoo” moment. At its best, Lent is something we experience. We use those approximately six weeks to reflect on our lives, especially the areas that need improvement.
Some Christian Churches give up meat, or worse chocolate. Others exclude flowers from their services throughout Lent. Others make a commitment to nurture the faith of its members by participating in Lenten devotionals. My devotionals can be used as a spiritual practice throughout Lent. (You can see them at westpres.org/daily-devotions). Whatever you choose to do, make sure it isn’t just a painful obligation, but a meaningful opportunity to nurture your relationship with God.
I’ve taken a few days of vacation and gone to a monastery, and used time in silence and prayer to experience a deeper time with God. I’ve committed to a number of Lenten devotions through the years. Personally, the least meaningful Lenten practice I’ve done is giving something up. Now, adding a spiritual discipline through Lent is important because it develops spiritual habits that just may continue throughout the rest of the year.
This year I plan to pick up my nylon string guitar to play and sing Taize music each day. In my last church we had a monthly Taize service, and it was a powerfully spiritual time for me. I look forward to inviting the Holy Spirit into daily worship over the 40 days of Lent. Do you have a Lenten plan yet? Be sure to think about your Lenten plan, so you can be ready to focus on God this Lenten season. You will be amazed at how God blesses your time with the Holy One.