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).
The theme of this year’s Lent Guide is “Unity with Christ.” We are looking at passage in the New Testament that speak of the ways that we are not alone in our daily life, but that in so many ways God is with us and leading us along the way. Our journey this year is to become more aware of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and how we are to be a changed people because of Him.
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 17th | Ash Wednesday
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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.
April 2nd | Good Friday Tenebrae Service
‘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.
“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.
THE DAILY OFFICE
The Daily Office is a practice that has been a part of Christian life since the beginning, and it continues to this day. It grew out of a Jewish tradition of prayer rooted in Psalm 119:164 (“I praise you seven times a day…”), and the book of Acts notes that “their prayers” were an important part of the early church’s practice: “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” Acts 2:42 (CEB). So when we pray these prayers, we are joining our voices with the Church around the world as well as the Church throughout history.
The Daily Office provides us with a way to meditate on scripture in our daily lives. We all agree that we need to pray, but many of us struggle to be consistent in our prayer lives. Some of us find that we run out of things to say, others of us have been limited in our understanding of what prayer is. We may have been taught that prayer is just “talking to God,” and it is that, but it is not *only* that. Prayer is so much more.
In this Daily Office, we incorporate several types of prayer: Psalms, written prayers given to us by the Church, contemplative prayer, and extemporaneous prayer. The driving desire behind praying in this way is the recognition that prayer is formational. Our prayers and our worship are not just expressions of beliefs that we already hold. They actually inform and shape our beliefs. This means we should pray not just what we can think of (that will only make us more of who we already are!), but we should pray things given to us in scripture and by the Church. Praying the same prayers that Jesus himself prayed (the Psalms), will help form us into the image of Christ.
The Daily Office is set up so that there’s no “catching up” to do. This is not a reading plan, it’s a form of prayer, so if you miss a day, just pick up on the next one! There are just two things you’ll need. The first is in your Lent Guide, and the second is a Bible or The Park App. The Daily Office is on page four of the guide. The Psalm of the day, scripture reading for the day, and the prayer for the week are listed on the third page for each week and can also be found on The Park App.
There’s no “wrong” way to pray the Daily Office, so jump in and get started! Establish a regular time and place to help you get into a prayerful state of mind more consistently. When praying individually, you will say everything listed in the Office. When praying in community, only the leader says all the written text. Everyone will say only the bold text.
Listen to an audio example guiding you through the first day’s Daily Office
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.
We believe that good music has the power to change your mood, your perspective and your focus. We will curate a playlist for you to follow and listen to to help you worship and focus during this Lenten Season.
Ash Wednesday Playlist
These are just a few of the books on prayer, Lent and other topics we think are helpful for you if you want additional resources for this journey.