On March 1st, we begin a new season in the church calendar year called LENT. Lent in Latin means “forty” which marks the forty days (minus Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and the glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Churches around the world traditionally begin the season with ashes from the burnt palm branches of last year’s Palm Sunday proclamation of Jesus is King, crossed on foreheads. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” we hear. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Lent begins in recognition of our humanity and vulnerability, in acknowledgement of how much of our days we live in shadows, turning away from God’s light of grace and goodness.
We would be remiss though if this was our only image of what Lent is all about. The fullness of the season is experienced as we listen to the Spirit’s call to journey more deeply into God’s salvation story for us both as individuals but corporately on behalf of the shalom of the world. We do this by choosing to look up and out of our selves to the mercy and grace that God freely gives. Through the spiritual practices like prayer, acts of mercy, almsgiving, silence and fasting, spiritual renewal and reflection gives way to the continued reception of God’s redeeming love extended to us through Jesus’ self giving. Like Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness, we make space in these forty days to face the darkness of our hearts while listening to the Father’s voice grounding us in the strength of our belonging in Him.
This year we will be looking at six texts from the Old Testament to help us remember and rehearse the story of God’s activity with us his people. Through a conversational partnership between four Covenant churches in the Twin Cities, we will explore their meaning for the church today.
Author: Pastor Jan Bros, Abbey Way Covenant Church, 2017