I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26 NIV
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. Matthew 27:32
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is the (roughly) 6-week period of time prior to Easter where we focus on drawing near to God and seeking him more earnestly. Like Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, Lent is a 40 day period of time from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter. That said, I am googling “How to explain Lent” to a toddler without upsetting her about Jesus’ death.
For many, the focus of Lent has been to give up something, to pray more, and to give to others. Of course, those are good things, but if we do those things simply for the sake of tradition or penance or earning favor, we do them all in vain.
The real intention of Lent is repentance and turning back to God with our whole hearts. Lent is a time to consider where we’ve allowed our hearts, minds, or actions to move away from God, and take on the habits and disciplines that will help us realign our lives with His will. As I prepare my heart for Wednesday when Lent begins, I’m asking myself 3 questions. Will you prayerfully answer these questions, too?
What will you withhold? Is it TV, Instagram, scrolling your phone? Do you have the faith to go without it for the next 40 days? What do you need to let go of, withhold or say “no” to in order to focus on God? What are the activities, attitudes, or obligations that clutter your calendar and life?
Next, Where will you say yes? What can you take on for Christ these next 40 days? Maybe it’s time to serve at your church or collect food for the food pantry. Maybe it’s blessing a stranger with a random act of kindness in the name of Jesus every day of Lent. Where can your love take action these next 40 days? I want to try the “40 bags in 40 days” Instead of or in addition to giving up something for Lent, you could purge a bag's worth of stuff every day during Lent.
For most, Lent is a time of intentional prayer. Maybe it’s committing to a time of prayer every day. Maybe it’s praying intentionally for your husband. Or read Scriptures on prayer — but don’t neglect to pray. Since we have a toddler I plan to read Easter books and read the Bible together every day. I think this is a given, but it's worth mentioning. You need to be reading the Bible with your kids every day, and this would be a great opportunity to focus on the ministry of Jesus.
We thank you that Easter is not about a people, but all people, that your love and your Salvation are for all who confess with voices, hearts and lives that the tomb is empty because Jesus is risen, that we might know forgiveness, that lives might be reborn and your name glorified now and for eternity.
In Your Son’s Name, Amen
Roberta Smith, Faith and Family Coordinator