Lent is just around the corner! Lent is an ancient Christian practice of taking 40 days of solemn reflection and penitent preparation for celebrating the resurrection of Christ. It starts on Ash Wednesday (February 26 this year) and lasts until Easter Sunday (April 12 this year).
Despite the bad press that Lent sometimes gets (and the bad experiences many of us have had with it), it’s a blessed time in the church year. It’s not a time to feel bad for how bad you are, or a season to punish yourself for your sins.
Lent is a time to get real. To take stock of the actual state of our souls. It’s a time to repent and turn from the little ways we insulate ourselves from feeling our own anxiety and anger, opening up time and space for our souls to meet God more fully in those very places.
Unto that end, I wanted to offer a few resources to help us observe Lent this year together in a way that bears good fruit in our lives.
Practices to try
The traditional Lenten disciplines are taken from Matthew 6:1-18, where Jesus teaches his disciples how to practice prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor. Here are a few pointers on how to practice these disciplines today.
Discern and practice a fast.
One of the most prominent aspects of Lent is that people are trying to decide what they’re going to “give up for Lent” this year. In other words, Lent is about fasting. But Christian fasting mostly misunderstood (and therefore tragically under-practiced).
That’s why we wrote this article a few years ago: “How to Fast For Lent”. Use it to discern a Lenten fast for yourself.
Pray every day.
Lent is a great time to start or recommit to a regular practice of daily prayer. But, if you’re like most people, it’s hard to know where to start.
That’s why we curated some simple daily prayer liturgies for Lent. A prayer liturgy is simply a set of prayers that guides us into a way of relating to God that facilitates genuine encounter, and steady formation in Christlikeness over time. We have a liturgies for daily morning prayer and daily evening prayer, as well as a liturgy designed to be prayed during Table groups around a meal.
In these prayer liturgies, there’s still room for to pray about the things that you care about, but it places those concerns within a larger framework of the church at prayer together.
Give to the poor.
Lent is also a time for intentional and sacrificial giving to the poor (“almsgiving” is the old-fashioned way of saying it). We recently started a benevolence fund to help alleviate expenses associated with housing and providing for refugees through our work with Anglican Immigrant Initiative.
Try setting aside some extra money each week during Lent and give to our benevolence fund.
Books to read
New this year is a book by Greg Goebel and Joshua Steele (priests in our province) called Lent: The Journey from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week. It’s an introduction to the ancient practice of Lent and an invitation to join Christians all over the world in fasting, prayer, study, and giving to the poor.
Another priest in our province, Aaron Damiani, has written an excellent introduction to Lent, called The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent. He spends a lot of time talking about the “why” of Lent, and has some great practical ways to experiment with practicing Lent.
Have a blessed and good Lent, friends! I’m grateful we get to practice our faith together.
Grace and peace,