Each year, Christ followers around the world observe a season of reflection known as Lent. For those who practice it, the 40 days (plus Sundays) leading to Easter provide a time to cultivate awareness of God's presence as we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. In many ways, the desert symbolizes a spiritual place where we withdrawal for a time in order to silence the noise and distractions of the world.
This year, Lent begins on March 6th, and many Christians will recognize the day by having ashes placed on their forehead. With Ash Wednesday comes a sense of somberness, and acknowledgement of our sin and mortality—that we came from dust and to dust we will one day return (Ecclesiastes 3:20). You might notice people around town with ashes on their forehead, which are traditionally taken from leaves used the previous year for Palm Sunday, and act as an outward sign of inward reflection.
Though the season of Lent comes with a sense of soberness and seriousness, the word Lent is actually derived from words meaning "spring," and the next six weeks of devotion and renewal also include a sense of new life, slowly emerging from winter. This fills us with expectation and hope for Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.
Even though Oak Life may not be the most traditional church, we still strive to embrace the beauty and wisdom of our historic and global faith. Our hope is to become more aware of the sacredness of life as we enter into this seasonal rhythm alongside followers of Christ from various backgrounds and denominations.
Below is a simple Lenten prayer we'll be closing out Sunday gatherings with with followed by a couple of ideas for how you might be able to personally engage with Lent:
"God of Love, In this season of listening:
Calm our restlessness, quiet our chaos, and still our spirits.
Help us to live spaciously and simply so that
Our hearts would be open to your presence,
And our hands to the needs of those around us.
Be with us now as we go forth to love and serve the world.
Ideas for how to engage in Lent:
-Find a practice or fast to engage with. Maybe you want to consider fasting a meal a day or taking a day of the week to avoid social media. Maybe this could be a time of sacrificial giving where forego getting coffee out and instead donate the money to a ministry or charity. Maybe you'd like to spend some time each day in prayer or reading a devotional. The point with these practices is to find a way to be still and listen for God's presence.
- Be a part of our Sunday gatherings which will be connected to some of the themes around living lives of spaciousness and simplicity
-Check out a couple of these books to supplement your journey:
- Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr
- Lent for Everyone, N.T. Wright
-Check out an Ash Wednesday service at a local church