I wrote this reflection for the Grace Church February 2015 Newsletter
Lent originated in the very early days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter when the faithful rededicate themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. It is believed that by observing the forty days of Lent, individual Christians imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days at the beginning of his ministry.
When I think of Lent, my thoughts turn to Lenten sacrifice. What do I give up for Lent? Some people give up chocolate for Lent, others give up Facebook – I am sure you know many things that you or others have given up in the past. I always think of Lent as a time to break an old bad habit, time to reject something that somehow causes a prick of my own conscience.
Frankly, I am unsure whether God really cares about how much candy I eat, or whether I can’t miss my friends social networking posts. Instead, God does care whether I love others and not just those closest to me. God does care whether I help to feed the hungry or nurture a relationship with my community. God cares whether I spend time with God in prayer and worship. Lent is not just a season about self-denial; Lent is a season about reordering our desires, our patterns of being, and our patterns of living to seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. And it is also a time to explore and deepen our relationship with God, who so desires that we know God. This Lent, I hope to look up from the self-indulgent guilt of worrying about chocolates and “screen time” and instead look out to a world that is crying for my compassion, and towards a God who so desires my attention.
Our Wednesdays at Grace Series during Lent is entitled “Visions of Jesus” We will be asking, who is Jesus, really? Understanding the person, teachings and interpretations of Jesus is central to our faith – yet there are so many different traditions and strands of understanding him. During this series we will explore some of the many, many perspectives and understandings of Jesus, his teachings and what he accomplished through his ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. Sessions will be taught by a variety of presenters showing the variety of perspectives on Jesus, more details can be found inside the newsletter.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, Wednesday February 18th. We will have services at noon and 7PM, and a Children’s service at 5:30PM. Join us as we mark the beginning of this season.
The Rev. Noah H. Evans