Monday, March 3, 2014

Did you know Lent starts Wednesday?

An Ash Cross
Lent is 40 days long = 6 1/2 weeks (minus Sundays, which the Church counts as feast- rather than fast-days). Catholics prepare tomorrow with the feast of Mardi Gras. The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday. (Subscribe to my daily Lenten blog on the right or in a reader feed.)

Travel broadens the horizons, they say. One of the best spiritual surprises while living in England was how much I love Lent. It's a time of deprivation. Of reflective loss. Of putting aside.

But mostly, it's a communal season for joy and gratefulness during the countdown to the celebrations of Easter. Jesus left the wonders and perfection of heaven to live with us. In the Church calendar, we set aside 40 days for a deeper awareness of God's goodness. Protestants tend to get caught up in Christmas (the arrival of the heavenly babe) and Easter (Jesus death and resurrection). We sometimes forget to live out the model of God-among-us-in-Christ that falls between.

During Lent we consider how Jesus willingly suffered to repay our debts to God. How he bridged the gap between our heavenly Father and us by taking our sins from us. How His glorious resurrection demonstrates our hopeful future. (Ah... don't you love the anticipation of new life during Lent?)

Prayer is one of the focuses of the Lenten season. This year, I'm going to find the prayers of scripture and make them - one at a time - my meditation for a day.

What ways of praying have been meaningful or helpful to you? Please share them with us.

Read more:
*The ransomed of the Lord shall return, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 51:11 ESV

*Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:6-11 NLT

*In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:6 (NIV)

Moravian Prayer: Save us, O God, from the worldly distractions and petty obstacles that capture us daily. Release us from the bondage of grief and sorrow and self-pity, that we might ever enjoy the blessings you bring. Amen.

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