Early Church determined the Lenten season was period of fasting and renewal that corresponds with Jesus fasting (Matthew 4:2).
Forty days back from Easter minus Sundays = Lent.
Once Lent primarily viewed as period during which converts prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday but later became a season of repentance and renewal for all Christians.
Season of Lent involves repentance, and renewal
Time to open hearts which have grown calloused (hardened) thorough selfishness and pride – doing things our way, not walking with God as closely as designed.
- Spiritually dull
John Piper reminds us, “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied.”
We practice overindulgence in things that keep us from hungering after God, drowning ourselves in things that take us away from God.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”– Psalm 51:10 [ESV]
Symbolism of Ashes
We are but dust and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20, Ecclesiastes 12:7)
Dust needs God to have life. Dust cannot boast. Dust is nothing without the crucified & risen Christ.
- Frailty or Death (Genesis 18:27)
- Sadness or Mourning (Esther 4:3)
- Judgment (Lamentations 3:16)
- Repentance (Jonah 3:6)
Imposition of Ashes
- Opportunity to reaffirm our baptism
- Opportunity to testify to God’s electing love, which claims us and marks us as His own.
Paul tells us that we have been buried with Christ through baptism, so that we may live with Christ in glory (Romans 6:1-11)
Ashes reminds us of burial, death of old self which makes possible the new life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – You are not your own; you have been bought at a price
When you fast (stop doing something), don’t just fast from something, but replace that something with something beneficial to your relationship with Jesus.
Give up complaining, give up negative talk…. Give up whatever is getting in the way of you and Jesus….
For the Lenten season, we shall join Jesus Christ on a Pilgrimage.
This season focuses closely on the Passion of Christ.
The Latin meaning of Passion is “suffer.”
The Passion of Christ includes His entrance to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His arrest, His trial, His crucifixion on Mount Calvary.
The Passion was directed by the will of God, the life mission of Jesus was the Cross (John 12:27 – The very reason He came).
The Passion originated in love.
As we examine the Passion, we note that Jesus lived in dependence on the presence of God.
This Lenten season, as we start this Pilgrimage, may we remember our dependence on God, and live a life in His presence.
To be continually living in His presence means to walk in His will, to be in constant prayer, to have His Word in your heart and mind, to worship uninhibited.