Though I did not grow up in church, I have always been slightly drawn to the liturgical. Perhaps it was my friends who were Catholic and would talk to me about why they wore ashes on their foreheads or it was my visits to the local Jewish temple with my best friend from Jr. High School? Whatever it was, I was fascinated by piety, tradition, and religious practices.
Looking back on my childhood and teen years, I think I was drawn to these traditions and rituals because I feared I was missing something deeper, something more spiritual. And I was. But what I was higher than rituals and chanting and incense; it was Jesus. The spirituality I longed for was less of a religious practice, and more of forgiveness and grace. I was broken and didn’t realize my fix wasn’t found in rituals and rote sayings, but in repentance and mercy. It was less about achieving and striving, and more about receiving and abiding.
So this season, I’m trying to look at Lent afresh. I’m approaching “Lent” not as a ritual or routine, not merely as something I give up but Someone I’m turning to. Not as some religious practice that makes me feel self-righteous, but a season that leads me to repentance and humility, seeing Christ for who He is and drawing near to Him in a deeper way.
What is Lent?
“Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.
Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. It is commonly observed by many Christian denominations—Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and others—although not every Christian church or denomination does so. Because Lent is not officially instituted in Scripture, observing it isn’t in any way a “requirement” of Christianity. However, Christians from many different theological persuasions choose to observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.” (Source: What is Lent?)
I wanted to be intentional this season by practicing different spiritual disciplines. Our generation hears the word “discipline” and immediately cries “legalism”. However, spiritual disciplines are practices that are meant to deepen your relationship with the Lord; they are not activities that are done to somehow earn more favor or approval from God. We practice these disciplines to draw near to God out of an overflow of love and grace He has given us. We draw near because of the Gospel.
God’s love for us is the motivator in cultivating our love for Him.
Through Jesus; His life, death, and resurrection, we are promised right relationship with our Heavenly Father. In resting in His finished work on the cross, spiritual disciplines become less about duty, and more about delight.
So for these next few weeks (40 days), I’m inviting you to join me to be more intentional this season. Being intentional in our relationship with Christ doesn’t have to be begrudging, guilt ridden, or legalistic. Intentional simply means: done on purpose, deliberate.
Join me as I try and remember Immanuel, God With Us, over these next few weeks. Remembering that Christ came to live among us and to die for us. Would we use these practices to be intentional to see Christ, to remember, reflect, and anticipate Resurrection. Let’s move toward Christ in a different, smaller, quieter, slower and more intentional way over these next few weeks, beholding the beauty of Christ in a new and fresh way this season.
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*If you are looking for a deeper study on spiritual disciplines, you can download the 8-week study I wrote here: Spiritual Disciplines