As Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday, Christian leaders and ministers from various theological streams are commenting on its significance and what humanity might do to participate in it.
The season is a penitential time in the life of the Christian Church and is the 40-day lead-up, Sabbath days excepting, to Easter. Many Christians pick something to go without during this season, practice a kind of fasting, or add on another spiritual discipline that’s outside of their norm.
The season allows Christians to replicate in a practical way the sacrifice of Christ when He withdrew to the desert for 40 days.
Easter Sunday occurs this year on April 12.
Lenten disciplines and practices vary by denomination but the observance of the season is more formal in the Roman Catholic Church and in Protestant congregations that are more liturgical.
Here are how several Christians figures and others are marking this season.
Mark Batterson: Daily office and devotional plan
Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., is practicing a “daily office” during Lent. The daily office is the practice of beginning and ending each day with Bible reading and prayer.
His church’s discipleship team is also offering a resource for Christians that includes daily devotionals, a Bible reading plan and reflection questions.
“The 40-day season of Lent is a time to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing our hearts for Easter. Lent is an opportunity to get out of routine, re-center ourselves on God, and pursue the ways of Jesus,” The Jesus Way resource states.
“Throughout this season we’re going to be setting aside time, both collectively and as individuals, to respond and to dive deeper into who he is and who we are in him. One thing is for sure, you can’t walk the Jesus way alone.”
The first devotional notes that spiritual disciplines can be “a response to the very presence of God. But sometimes we have to make spiritual disciplines happen; we elbow-grease them into existence. Neither is right or wrong. We all start somewhere.”
Beth Moore: Memorize 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Writing on Twitter Tuesday, popular Bible teacher Beth Moore threw out a challenge to Christians to deepen their knowledge of Scripture.
“Memorize 2 Cor 6:1-13. Our landscape is a loaded minefield. We won’t make it accidentally. God has used this incomparably as a stabilizer in my ministry life amid all the insanity,” she tweeted.
The passage of the New Testament epistle highlights the hardships of the Apostle Paul and urges believers in Jesus not to receive the grace of God in vain.
“We’re reading tons of books and listening to lots of podcasts and those are wonderful things. Let’s keep them up. But we’re in deep need of the Scriptures actually abiding in our brains & there’s no better segment to remind us of the true mark of successful ministry,” Moore continued.
She went on to note that the passage concludes with a reminder to keep one’s heart wide open, a reminder we need because closing our hearts will be a natural defense to rampant hostility.
“I’ve never wasted a single moment spent memorizing scripture. But let me tell you, this segment has been gold to me in this mess,” Moore said.
“We have to get our heads back on straight. We can’t ride the constant roller coaster of public opinion -of being adored & abhorred — & keep our sanity. Our CHARACTER. We’re no longer throwing tomatoes. We’re throwing grenades. But there’s stability & steadiness to be had. Find it.”
Pope Francis: Fix your eyes on crucified Lord
In an official release from the Vatican, Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2020 urged Catholics to embrace the mystery of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Even in human weakness, God is always engaging in a “dialogue of salvation with us,” the pope said.
“Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence,” he said.
Francis also underscored the importance of prayer during Lent, as a means of responding to the love of God.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter