The practice of Lent has become a place of grace for me over the last number of years. Some feel that Lent is a failure to recognize that our salvation is rooted in grace. But Lent isn’t about earning favor. It’s actually about recognizing the habits in our lives that keep us from the free grace God is always offering. Lent makes space for the reception of grace.
Simply put, Lent is the period of six weeks (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday which, this year, will be on March 6. The last week of Lent happens during Holy Week, which is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
One biblical narrative that informs Lent for many Christians is Jesus spending forty days in the wilderness right after his baptism. During this time, Jesus fasted, prayed and was tempted. Early Christians from the fourth century on took this as a model to follow. They went to the desert to fast and to wrestle with their demons.
So some practice of fasting is generally a key element of observing Lent. Usually, fasting involves giving up a certain kind of food (like meat, fats, dairy or such). Some give up desserts or alcohol during Lent.
Others give up something like social media, television or checking email in the evenings and such. In place of those activities, we seek to be attentive to God. Perhaps we read the Scriptures or meaningful spiritual writings. Perhaps we have important conversations with family or friends.
We’ve said before that Lent is about saying a little no for a while so that we can say a bigger, heartier “Yes” to God. Our “Noes” can have a way of focusing us and making us more aware and attentive to God with us.
Every time we feel the urge to do what we’ve said we wouldn’t do during Lent, that becomes a moment for prayer, again offering ourselves to the guiding and providing presence of God, for settling back into an abiding posture with God..
We are talking about Lent now because we’re inviting you to join us in the practice of An Unhurried Lent. It will be based on our new devotional, Inhaling Grace. A free reading guide for Lent is on our website.
We’re going to talk more about this in the next Unhurried Living podcast episode on February 11. Be sure to listen in and join us for An Unhurried Lent.
What to do:
As you think ahead to the beginning of Lent in about a month, what little “No” do you feel led to offer God so that you might say a heartier “Yes” to him?