Lent – Observing the Christian Calendar in 2016

Christian Calendar

A reminder for those who have chosen to observe the Christian Calendar this year (or perhaps for those who aren’t sure about making the commitment for an entire year and would like to begin by observing a single season) – The season of Epiphany is coming to a close next Tuesday, February 9th.

Lent, the next season of the Christian Calendar will begin the following day, Wednesday, February 10th (Ash Wednesday).   This year the season of Lent will run through March 24th (Maundy Thursday).

Following is a brief reminder as to what the season of Lent celebrates and how you might choose to observe it.

Lent:  A Season of Darkness

The Cycle of Life (Contemplating Salvation – God for us) begins with the season of Lent.  This is a time to reckon with the reality of darkness and death.  And while Lent is a season of darkness, for the Christian, it is not a season without hope.  Because this season ends in Easter – in resurrection, in new life.  This is a time to prepare.

Lent is both a sojourn and a journey.  The sojourn triggers a look inward for acknowledgement of our human and spiritual vulnerabilities.  The journey summons us to look outward and weigh the costs of discipleship.  Both involve turning.

The color of Lent is purple which symbolizes repentance.

One of the major observances of Lent is the practice of fasting.  Christian fasting is the voluntary denial of something for a specific period of time for a spiritual purpose.   This act intentionally creates space in our lives for our relationship with God.  It helps make room in our lives for us to listen to God, which often leads us to repentance.  In fasting we address our temptations and deny ourselves of certain personal enjoyments.  As well, we turn from a self-centered stance to a grace-filled humility.  God longs for those blank, empty places in our lives – not for the sake of emptiness, but so he can fill us with Himself.

IDEAS FOR OBSERVING THE SEASON OF LENT

  • Fast – create space in your life for your relationship with God.
  • Prayerful reading and study of Scripture.
    • Read the Crucifixion account in each Gospel.
    • Read the same Crucifixion account in multiple versions of the Bible.
  • Choose a thoughtful book to read during the season of Lent. Below are some suggestions:
    • The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders.
    • Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Nancy Guthrie.
    • The View from Mount Calvary: 24 Portraits of the Cross throughout Scripture, John Phillips.
    • The Pleasures of God, John Piper.
    • The Man Born to be King, Dorothy L. Sayers.
    • Walk with Jesus, Charles Swindoll.
  • For younger children, use Lenten Lights by Noel Piper for Lenten devotions.
  • Practice charity. With money saved by fasting from something of choice, provide for a charitable organization or person or family in need.
  • Refrain from having flowers in your home during the season of Lent.
  • Incorporate a visual or tangible symbol into your observance.
    • Carry a two inch nail in your pocket during Lent.
    • Wear a cross around your neck, perhaps hidden beneath your clothing.
    • Place a cross in a noticeable spot within your home.
    • Fill your home with reproductions of art on the subject.
    • Place a palm branch through your door knocker or somewhere else in your home on Palm Sunday.

 

PLANNING FOR LENT

February 10 – Lent Begins (List ways you plan to intentionally observe Lent this year.)

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