What is Lent?
The season of Lent finds its roots in the early 2nd-century church. The Lenten season is 40 days in which the church reflects on the life and death of Jesus. The 40 days of Lent reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13).
At The Park we are beginning a series on the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Philippi from a prision cell, unsure of whether he is going to be sentenced to death or not. He realizes that his life could end, but instead of responding in fear, he responds with joy and with hope. In just four chapters, Paul mentions joy or rejoicing sixteen times. With the full expectation of his death, he is filled with joy.
This Lenten season is about all of us coming to the same realization that Paul did:”For to me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21) We want this season of Lent to be one where together we are not just meditating on the things of God, but one where we are practicing them together. In order to help with this, we have created this Lent Guide that includes mediations, prayers, and some practices for us to do together. Some of these practices involve a sacrifice of giving something up. Some of them require us to give blessings to others rather than ourselves.
This focus of practicing the “unforced rhythms of grace” helps us to live in joy and hope in a world that is falling away. They help prepare us to once again experience the act of receiving new hearts on Easter Sunday morning. We are saved once we accept Jesus, but the celebration of Easter allows us to experience salvation once again.
February 26th | Ash Wednesday
Alamo Heights Baptist Church | 7am & 12pm
Ash Wednesday traditionally marks the beginning of the Lenten season. From the ashes of the previous year’s palm Sunday branches, Christians over the centuries have been marked with a cross on their foreheads. As we receive this mark, we hear the words spoken over us, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). In this act, we are reminded of the frailty and mortality of our bodies; that our days are numbered in this world (Ps 90:12). This body that God has given us, through which our spirit experiences Him, through which we share His love with those around us, came from the earth, and will return to it one day. It is in this place of humility, we move toward him again, and open up space for His love to transform us.
March 29th | Lenten Prayer & Worship Night
Northeast Baptist Church | 2930 MacArthur View | 5-6 pm
Come join us for an evening of singing, prayer, and Scripture reading. This prayer and worship night is strategically planned for the middle of the Lenten season as a time to reflect, pray and seek the Spirit in the midst of a season where we are remembering Christ’s journey to the cross. Childcare will be available on site for children 5 and under. Older children are welcomed to join this evening of quiet reflection.
April 10th | Good Friday Tenebrae Service
Alamo Heights Baptist Church | 12pm
‘Tenebrae’ means darkness or shadows. As we come to the end of Lent, we begin a journey into darkness to a place of deep shadows. This service is a somber service where we read scripture from the last week of Jesus’ life and sing together. We enter into the depth of sadness and darkness that would have been felt after Jesus died on the cross, before Easter Sunday. This service is a preparation to celebrate Easter Sunday morning. We will have prayer stations available for an hour before (11:00am) until an hour after the service is over (2:00pm).
Friday Morning Prayer
The Impact Guild | 708 W. Summit Ave | Fridays @ 7am
We are committing to pray together on Friday mornings during Lent. During this season we are gathering together to ask read the lectionary scripture together and to allow God to speak to us through his word. We will then pray through the Daily Office together in community.
“God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”
Richard J. Foster, A Celebration of Discipline
Following Jesus takes practice. During this Lenten season, we encourage you to use some traditional spiritual disciplines to help you connect with God.
is the practice of abstaining from something. The purpose of this abstinence is in order to rightly learn to enjoy God’s gifts. What we consume often consumes us. Fasting doesn’t have to be scary, it can be done on a small scale.
Forms fasting can take:
- abstain from a media form (tv, social media, etc…)
- abstain from buying new things
- choose silence or natural sounds
- trim a packed schedule
- fast from food (can be a partial fast or a full fast)
is a practice for paying attention to God’s presence your life: reflect on God’s presence; review your day in a spirit of gratitude; become aware of your emotions before God; pray over one feature of your day; and then intentionally look forward to tomorrow. This practice can become a healthy rhythm for your spiritual life and relationship with God.
At the end of your day, take some time to reflect on the things that you did and said throughout your daily routines. What were your attitudes, behaviors, and character weaknesses? Where did you notice God’s presence? How did you you interact with other people? Pray over a part of your day and ask God to prepare you in new ways for tomorrow.
is a practice of praying scripture. Read a passage of scripture. Instead of trying to study or exegete the passage, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying through God’s Word. Mediate or wonder about the Word in a time of silence, where you think of nothing but what you read. Read the passage again as a prayer. Then speak to God about what it is you read and that He brought to your heart and mind. Rather than reading to learn more about God (which is a good thing), Lectio helps us to read to love and know God more.