Just recently we have finished our 40 days of focused prayer for the cities of the Mesoamerica Region. Every January we begin the calendar year by asking the Lord to begin a genesis in us and in the urban populations around the world. Let us continue to intercede for these cities, and may we give and serve sacrificially in order to witness their transformation!
In 2018, those 40 days ended just a few days before another 40-day experience begins. In the Christian calendar, this upcoming Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. This is a significant season where we as Christ-followers do just that: we follow Christ, and we follow him specifically to the cross.
Our friends at A Plain Account have shared a description of Lent (below) that I hope will prove helpful to you and your congregation during this time.
Lent is a period of fasting and sorrow for our sin in preparation for the celebration of Easter. The purple colors that decorate many sanctuaries in this season represent sorrow, mourning, and suffering. However, purple is also a royal color, reminding us of the sacrifice of our King, Jesus.
Lent is an exceedingly ancient custom. There is tradition that suggests the original Apostles instituted the practice.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Lent lasts 40 days, not counting Sundays. Ash represents our repentance, our sorrow for our sins, and our mortality. The period of 40 is common in the Bible, associated with Moses, Elijah, Noah, Jonah, Jesus, and others. Ash represents the death and destruction caused by sin. To receive an anointing of ash is a sign of repentance.
During this time people often fast from something such as chocolate, TV, or eating meat. The purpose of a fast is to heighten your awareness of the presence of God. You also might consider adding something to your life during Lent like a spiritual discipline or being more generous. It can be a great way to begin a good habit.
Lent concludes with Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday (the Triumphal Entry) and includes Maundy Thursday (when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday (a day of deep sadness at Christ’s death).
During Lent we recognize our need, and we repent of our sinfulness. The essence of sin is broken relationship. It is when we say “no” to God’s call to love at each moment. Even in this somber time of the year the Resurrection is in the background. There is hope. There is forgiveness. Easter is coming.