By Nathan Anenson
What is Lent all about? Does it have any relevance to my life? And if so, what am I supposed to do? Let’s tackle these questions together!
Lent is about drawing near to God.
Lent is the 40 Days leading up to Easter (minus Sundays). It is based on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, when he was tempted by Satan. It was in this time, that Jesus drew near to His Father. That’s really the heart of Lent: an intentional season to draw near to God. Life is always busy, so it takes intentionality to grow a relationship with God. So Christians for centuries have found setting aside 40 days to focus on God very life-giving.
Should I give something up?
There is a tradition of giving something up for Lent: chocolate, social media, pop, coffee, etc. But do you have to? Nope. It’s interesting that when Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness without food, he was led there by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). There is no law you have to give up something for Lent, but there are seasons when the Holy Spirit will lead you to a season of self-denial for the sake of drawing near to the Father. And that’s the key. We don’t give up something for it’s own sake; we give something up if it helps us draw near to God. So for Lent, if skipping a meal helps you have an extra 30 minutes to pray, or if giving up expensive coffee helps you be more generous, or if giving up social media helps you focus less on what others think and more on what God thinks–you are free to do that. Don’t give up something out of obligation, but if the Spirit leads you to something that will help you draw near to God, go for it!
What about Wednesdays?
One of the key ways we draw near to God during Lent is to gather on Wednesday nights for worship. We have found this is a powerful way that God works, when we gather in community around God’s Word. You are invited to give something up to worship on Wednesdays.
It starts with Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday kicks off the season of Lent. As the name suggests, ashes are a part of that night. Ashes are a sign of repentance and returning to God. So this night we gather in honesty before a holy God and turn away from our sins. Then we experience God’s mercy and grace and celebrate His love for us. If you’ve never experienced an Ash Wednesday service, you don’t want to miss this.
Whoever you are, God is drawing near to you. And he invites you to draw near to Him this Lent.