February: Week 3

Preparing for Lent

The season of Lent (40 ordinary days before Easter) often arrives before we’ve considered what to do about it. Traditionally this has been a time for the church to focus on prayer (towards God), fasting from foods and/or festivities (towards self), and alms-giving (towards others). We have a tendency to turn Lent into a token stand against chocolate and the tide of consumerism, but it’s more than that. Lent is a season of repentance, simplicity and generosity in preparation for the celebration of our Saviour’s suffering, death and resurrection. Just as Passover was created to remind Israel about the Exodus– the hardship of slavery and the greatness of their salvation– the church has created Lent as a way of reminding us of our need of a Saviour, of his grace towards us, and our role in the world. This year Lent begins on Wednesday 17th of February.

There are several biblical parallels where God provides seasons of preparation: Israel’s exodus and desert wanderings provided a transitional period of simplicity and hardship before the blessings and abundance promised in the Land. Ironically we can be tempted to chastise Israel for their dietary complaining over forty years in the wilderness, yet be unwilling to simplify our own diets for forty days! 

In preparation for Lent, spend some time investigating the wisdom of some of the ancient Christian activities practiced during the 40 days leading up to Easter. Perhaps you can share some of your insights in the comments box below, or at our next Community lunch. Consider observing some simplified practices, not as a mere denial of consumption, but something you (and perhaps your community) actively put in place as a discipline to help you focus on the events of Easter.

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