On the traditional Christian Calendar, there are a few seasons that invite Christians of all denominations and traditions to step into the life of Jesus, thus making Him the center. This year, we are continuing our journey through the Book of John on Sundays, but emphasizing spiritual practices of repentance and renewal through our Lent Guide (found below).
For those of you new to the Lenten season, let me invite you to do a few things:
First, heed Jesus' invitation to follow Him into the desert (Matthew 4.1-11). It was there that He defeated the devil through resisting temptation, just before entering public ministry where Jesus invited people of all races, ages, and genders to follow closely to Him. As a result, thousands would come to Him with their needs, and occasionally, He'd meet them. Lent is a season of bringing our needs to Jesus and pleading with Him to meet them, according to His mercy.
Second, Lent is a time to be renewed by the commands to repent and find rest in Jesus. Through the next six weeks leading up to Easter, we'll enter an intentional season where we will be asking God to reorder our lives and loves so that they are more clearly focused on loving Jesus above all things. You and I cannot enter that season without a time of repentance and confession. I encourage you to take some time today to ask the Spirit to reveal to you: "What I have put before you in my affections?" A good way to discover this is by reviewing your calendar, your checking account expenses, or to ask a trusted friend to help you identify where you've gone astray.
Third, find something you've depended upon for far too much for far too long for security, rest, or identity and give it up for Lent. For me, I'm fasting from an hour of sleep each day so that I can spend some intentional time with Jesus each morning. My calendar has swallowed me lately, and it's time to re-order my priorities, starting with some intimate time with my Creator. So, get with the Lord, ask Him what you need to fast from during Lent so that you can feast on His presence with you and His posture which is for you.
Finally, participate in our weekly fasts by using our Lent Guide. Throughout Lent, we'll provide you with things to fast from and guidance on what to to replace that from which you are fasting. This year, we are focusing our attention on various practices that will remove some creature comforts, but also invite you to share in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters who are serving as missionaries across the world. As you participate, you’ll be invited to read, pray, discuss, and serve in various forms and our hope is that you'll be encouraged and challenged along the way.
Lent is my favorite time of year, and there is good reason. The intentionality of the six weeks before Easter are difficult, but it makes Resurrection Day that much more sweet. After all, there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday and Silent Saturday. Pain always produces joy, if we'll let it. And it is to that end, that I now invite you to follow Jesus, sacrificing simple pleasures, and remembering the suffering which Jesus endured on our behalf through this beautiful season of Lent.
Lance Williams, Lead Pastor of The Grove