While it may have escaped the notice of most evangelical Christians we are in the season of Lent.
According to definition given by the Evangelical Lutherans of America:
Lent is a forty day liturgical season that begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes at the Great Vigil of Easter. Sundays are not included in the 40-day count because every Sunday is a joyful celebration of Jesus' resurrection. Though not biblical, Lent has long been a tradition in the Christian Church, and it is thought that the tradition of the 40 days recalls the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matt 4:1-11). Lent is considered a time of penance and discipline.
While often times contemporary evangelical churches, including The Orchard, where I serve make little room for tradition, the fact is that observance of the season of Lent can be a rich and meaningful thing.
Easter often feels like it sneaks up on us. We're busy willing Spring to arrive, making plans to keep the kids entertained during Spring Break and simply going about our usual hectic routine. Traditionally Christians have used Lent as a time of preparation and reflection on their own sinfulness and need of a Savior. More than that, as a time to dwell on the great price that Jesus paid for you and for me when willingly laid His life down.
Lent is like the funeral durge played at the beginning of the New Orleans funeral, but Easter, is the joyful celebration as the music strikes up and people dance because while it is essential that we take time to soberly reflect that in my place and yours - Jesus Christ died, we make this reflection, thankfully as we also celebrate that Jesus Christ is risen, and more than that, that He will come again!
It's not necessary to rub ashes on your forehead during Lent, but here are a few ideas to make this season a time of meaningful preparation for joy and the wonder of Easter.
1. Read through John's gospel and particularly spend time in chapter 13-21
2. Rent "The Passion of the Christ" and watch it with your family (beware it is 'R' rated) then take time together to discuss the movie and pray together thanking Jesus for His love for you.
3. Pick up and read a copy of "The Reason for Easter" by Lee Strobel or "The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 Reasons why He came to die" by John Piper.
4. Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and take a line or a verse each day and consider journalling a prayer to God each day based upon that line or verse.