Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the day the Church begins its annual pilgrimage to the cross. For the uninitiated, I like how upperroom.org describes what Lent is all about:
It's the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays because every Sunday is like a little Easter. Basically, it's about one-tenth of a year (like a tithe of time).... [it's] a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.
That's good. In its simplest form, Lent is a season where the Church quiets itself as it prepares to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord.
As mentioned above, it begins with Ash Wednesday (I have a post that I wrote in an earlier year that helps explain what that's all about. Read about it here.)
Beyond today though, the simplest way is to take this next forty days as a time to seek the Lord in a way that is perhaps more deliberate than in other times of the year. Often this involves deciding to cut something out of your life that might allow you to remember Jesus with a more acute mind. For example, you might choose to cut out lunch so that the hunger pangs in those moments might alert you to the Lord. Traditionally, people have usually avoided meat, embracing a vegetarian diet for 40 days.
But remember, Lent, excludes Sundays. That's the day the Church feasts! It's the reminder that causes us to look forward to the hope of the resurrection and the great feast of the Lamb!
This year we find our world in even more turmoil than the years before. So what is this stirring in your heart? Are you sensing an increase in longing for Jesus? Is there a deeper rumbling for prayer, even if the words aren't coming out? Take the invitation this season provides and lean in.
Every Sunday, our video teachings will prepare us for the cross. But what else might the Lord be inviting you into in the season ahead?
From the Dust by Paul Zach