As a Lutheran pastor who did not grow up paying attention to the church year, there are powerful benefits to the liturgical calendar. At different times of the year, we are offered an opportunity for “disproportionate focus” on certain aspects of the faith. During Advent, we reject consumerism and lean into our hope for the Messiah who is to come. During Epiphany, we focus on the stories that reveal Jesus’ character and teachings. During the Easter season, we celebrate the power of the Resurrection and the defeat of death, hell, and the grave.
Lent is the time where we dwell with the fact that sin still reigns in this world, but that Jesus stepped right into our mess, planted His foot in the ground, and marched toward a waiting Cross that would murder Him for our sin. We are offered the opportunity to reflect, repent, and recommit to a life of discipleship in response to the great love displayed at Calvary.
If participating in Lent means giving up chocolate, then no, you don’t have to participate. If it means what I have described, you will be blessed if you mark the season by committing to deepen your spiritual practices.
Here are three simple ways you can practice Lent:
- Give up something: No, not chocolate. Time. Invest some time in a new spiritual practice. Pray the Lord’s Prayer daily. Start a Bible reading plan. Gather with a small group to discuss Sunday’s sermon. Changing up your discipleship routine can yield amazing fruit!
- Give in to something: Is there something that you have felt called to do, but have resisted it for weeks, months, or years? Lent is a great time to explore what giving in to God’s call might look like!
- Give away something: We can get so tied to our money and our stuff , but there can be great freedom found in giving it away. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. Disrupt your pattern of consumption and see how God uses that to bless you and others.
As we follow Jesus towards the cross over the next 40 days, let us be intentional about listening to what He wants to say to us and connect with one another to figure out how we might respond in faith.
What is one way you will participate in Lent this year?