Lent and our monthly Day of Prayer and Fasting
This Wednesday will be Ash Wednesday. It is the day we enter the season of Lent — a time-period historically designated by the church to commemorate Jesus’ journey to the cross. Traditionally, the season of Lent lasts for forty days (or forty-six days including Sundays), symbolic of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. The purpose of Lent has traditionally been to prepare the Christian for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repenting of sins, alms-giving, and self-denial. Sometimes this is manifest through fasting.
As a result, there may be a lot of ritualistic, legalistic baggage with the traditions of this season, so we hesitate to even use the word “Lent.” It is one of those “days” we may choose to observe (Romans 14:5-6). Your conscience can be free to pursue God as you see fit. As an opportunity to remember Jesus’ life and ministry and passion leading to his death and resurrection and orienting our lives around him, it seems to offer too valuable a practice to dismiss entirely.
So, this year, at New Life Church, we will attempt to create space to reflect on Jesus’ ministry in preparation for our celebration of his death and resurrection. We want to avoid the pits of legalism and despair, so we are not expecting or mandating a certain type or duration of fasting. Instead we want to focus on the Gospel which says Jesus has accomplished all that we need to be made right with God, and neither our penance nor our self-denial could make God love us more than He already does in Christ.
As we begin this season together, we would invite you to fast and pray and to attend a prayer meeting at either the New Life Church West Linn at noon Wednesday, or the New Life Church Wilsonville campus at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday. Because we are pursuing a deeper connection with the risen savior, use the following gospel-centered prayers:
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Our Sunday gatherings during this season will also follow this preparatory theme as we read Scripture, sing, and pray our way through Jesus’ ministry. During the final week of Lent, also known as “Passion Week,” which crescendos to Easter Sunday, there will be several additional opportunities for you to reflect on Jesus, by celebrating the Lord’s Supper in your home on Maundy Thursday, celebrating the Lord’s Supper together at our Good Friday gathering, fasting and praying on Holy Saturday, and celebrating the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
May this season be meaningful and helpful for you as we follow Jesus together. May the death and resurrection of Jesus fill you with great hope and joy during this season of Lent.