As this blog is prepared, we are still officially in the winter season and actually facing a forecast of accumulating snow. However, the feel of spring is in the air with various flowers blooming – daffodils, crocuses, and even some tulips. We have witnessed some of the wettest months ever, and many people have experienced unprecedented flooding levels. March Madness is almost upon us as well with basketball tournaments underway and the college rivalries intense. Meanwhile in Washington and Frankfort, the political debates and discourse reach feverish levels and sometimes seem to be reaching new levels of division and attack.
In the midst of all the above change that is in the air, there is also a very important season of the year at hand as well that really transcends all else. On Wednesday, March 6, which is known as Ash Wednesday in the Christian faith, we officially begin the Season of Lent. Lent, which is traced to the fourth century church, runs from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and concludes on the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday, which is observed this year on Sunday, April 21. Traditionally observed in the “high church” or liturgical tradition, Lent is receiving more attention these days in many Baptist and evangelical churches. As stated in “The Seasons of Lent,” the word Lent “comes from the old English word ‘lencten,’ which means ‘spring’ – when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time when we anticipate the victory of light and the light of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It is, according to C.S. Lewis, a season of ‘happiness and wonder that makes you serious.’”
Lent is a season in the Christian calendar with an invitation to all believers to draw closer to the Lord and meditate on Him. It is a time of prayer and preparation leading up to Easter. Some people will spend time in this season in self-examination and repentance. In some traditions, Christians enter into a period of fasting on certain during Lent – giving up certain food, drinks, or other pleasures. Other traditions focus on helping the “least of these” (Matthew 25) by acts of giving, serving, and sharing with those in need. In sum, the Season of Lent is an excellent preparatory time in which believers are called to periods of prayer, penance, repenting for failures of the past, and focusing on God’s grace. Lent is a time to prepare for Easter and to live the resurrected life in Jesus Christ to which we are called.
We as Baptist Christians certainly can benefit by taking time to learn about the practices and traditions of other Christian groups. While we don’t need to do something just for the sake of doing it, or simply imitate the practices of others, the meaning and observance of Lent can enhance our understanding of the passion and suffering of Jesus Christ at Calvary and His ultimate resurrection on the “third day…”
This year we are offering a devotional guide for your use during Lent – and we have extra copies available to share with others in the community. “Journey to the Cross” is the title of the devotional guide published by Christianity Today. There is a theme for each week leading up to Easter that will help direct thoughts, personal worship, and prayer. These guides may be used for individual or group study. You are encouraged to take one and use in your own personal and family study – and to share with others.
Daily prayer, repentance, study, and contemplation of the meaning of this season of the year, will give us deeper understanding and appreciation of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Join us in this journey during the months of March and April.