Entering into the Lenten Season
The Lenten season is upon us. It begins on March 1 with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the ashes that are placed on the foreheads in the shape of the cross of those attending Ash Wednesday services. These external ashes signify an inner repentance. The words normally said as the ashes are applied are: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Traditionally the ashes used for this service were gathered from the burning of the palm branches used in the Palm Sunday services the previous year. The practice dates back to the 8th Century.
Lent is a commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels, Jesus spent before beginning his public ministry, fasting in the desert, where he endured temptations by the Devil. There are traditionally forty days in Lent (not counting the Sundays) which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities. In recent years many Christians choose to give up something for the Lenten Season that will help them to create space, time and help them focus on God in order to draw nearer to God.
As we get ready to enter into the Lenten Season I encourage you to consider giving up something – something that you might be dependent on for comfort, security, significance instead of Jesus – something that if you stopped doing it for a season would free up additionally time to be with Jesus (facebook, movies, tv, twitter,…) – something that is a need, like food, that you give up to remind yourself that Jesus is the bread of life. Fasting on each Friday of Lent in order to feast on Jesus (be careful when fasting - make sure you are healthy have no eating issues) can be a very powerful practice recalling to mind the suffering/death of Jesus on Good Friday. A great way to fast for a day is to use the Jewish reckoning of a day from sunset Thursday to sunset Friday. It helps make a day of fasting a little more doable.
SO give it some thought. What might God be inviting you to give up and/or add to your life during the Lenten season that will help you more intentionally journey with Jesus and prepare your heart for the glorious celebration that is Easter.
One thing I will be doing is going through Week 3 in Journey with Jesus. This section invites us to walk to the cross with Jesus. If you start Week 3 (p. 221) on Ash Wednesday you will have some wiggle room in case you miss a few days here and there. There is a video intro to the section—www.b-ing.org - click on the Journey with Jesus video link.
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