Holy Father, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the desert,
give us grace to discipline ourselves
in humble submission to your Spirit,
that we may lead upright and holy lives
to your honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lent prepares us for Easter, to encounter the risen Lord. It’s a time to reflect on our relationship with Christ, to examine our lives under the gaze of a loving yet holy God. In the early Church, it was a time when converts to Christ were taught the faith in preparation for baptism at the Easter Vigil. As it was for them, so it is for us, that Lent is for self-examination and repentance, through prayer, fasting, self-denial, alms-giving (financial gifts) and by reading and meditating on the Scriptures (beyond hearing them at corporate worship).
Lent consists of the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Day, excluding the Sundays in Lent, which are celebrations of the Resurrection. By observing Lent, Christians “imitate” Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for a time of spiritual formation and testing. As Jesus was taken into the desert by the Spirit, may our Lent, too, be guided by God the Holy Spirit. It is a time set aside and sacred. That is why on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday we are invited to “keep a holy Lent.”
This Lenten opportunity for self-examination, repentance, and spiritual nurture is formed by a focus on our Lord, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Our souls will be restored, our commitment deepened, our service broadened, and the Church will be strengthened. And with great joy we will worship the risen Lord at Easter!
1. Reflect on your life, and consider it in light of God’s ways, God’s written word, the Scriptures and above all God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The joy of repentance is aiming your life according to God’s direction. “Giving up” something for Lent, be it a food or a drink or an activity, can help to remind you of wanting to “keep a holy Lent.”
2. Read and meditate on the word of God in the Bible, and pray. Take one of the Gospels and get to know it really well, by reading it several times during Lent. Participating in the Lenten Programme will be a good help.
3. Midweek services, either the regular Thursday 10:00 a.m. Holy Communion, or the Tuesday 6:00 p.m. Celtic Eucharist, will assist you in prayer and encountering God.
4. Read a good book that deals with spiritual matters. Use the provided Lenten Books and also try authors such as C.S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Tom Wright, and Dorothy Sayers and older writers such as Augustine, Julian of Norwich and Athanasius.
5. Especially if it has been a while since you took any time intentionally to learn more about the Christian faith, take the Thursday evening sessions on “THE CREEDS” – a Pilgrim course on the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds and why it’s helpful to understand what we say we believe.
6. Give special extra offerings by making use of the Lenten envelopes/folders.
7. Simplify and de-clutter your life, to give more room for the Holy Spirit to get more of your attention on a daily basis. Try to fast, maybe one day a week, or with some other time frame. Take time ‘to be’.
8. Be sure to take in the whole of HOLY WEEK, that most sacred of times in the whole year, in heartfelt anticipation for the great celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.