A portion of this reflection is from a piece about Lent I wrote for Renovare’ a few years ago.
The season of Lent is one of those recurring rhythms in the church year that ritualizes the beauty of God’s life-giving, redemptive work in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Though the concept of Lent, a season of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, was being articulated as early as the second century, the liturgical season of Lent seems to have taken form in the 4th century. The Council of Nicea (325) called for two gatherings of the synods, one of which was to be held before the forty days of preparation for Easter. By the end of the 4th century, the forty days of Lent had become integrated into the yearly rhythm of the Christian community as they prepared, primarily through the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer, for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
The number forty has both biblical and spiritual significance. We recall the forty years of wandering in the wilderness for the people of Israel. Moses communed with God on the top of Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights, eating no bread nor drinking water, as he inscribed the words of the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone (Exodus 34:28). Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb for forty days and forty nights without food nor drink (I Kings 19:8). We also remember Jesus being led by the Spirit, following his baptism, into the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-2). In each case, whether forty years or forty days, the number forty spoke not only to a span of time but also a span of God’s ongoing presence experienced in trial and temptation, through accumulated wisdom and insight, and by God’s sustaining grace and love.
At Peace our theme for the season is Practice Makes Possible. Each week we will introduce a simple practice that will awaken you to the beauty and freedom of a life lived in God’s grace. This week we practice confession. On a daily basis, pray this prayer
Lord, thank you for the ways you were/are present in my day
Forgive me for ____________________________________.
Release me from the burden of guilt and regret.
Let me know the freedom of your love and grace. Amen.
The point of each practice is not its completion. You are not checking off spiritual lists to impress God. You are making yourselves available for the movements of God’s renewing Spirit.
Welcome to Lent. It is a forty day journey marked in days, but lived in grace.
It’s the Monday before Lent. Find a place to worship on Ash Wednesday. Enter the journey of grace. Peace. Kai