What is Ash Wednesday and why do we practice it? - begins season of Lent for the church.
What is Lent? - 40 day of repentance and renewal before Easter. Sundays not included and ends Easter Sunday.
Lent is a time of renewal and preparation
1. Choose penitential practices that encourage inner renewal and reconciliation with God.
2. Set aside time for prayer, study and worship.
3. Meditate on Christ’s sacrifice and its meaning for us today.
Observing Lent prepares us to celebrate Easter more fully through
1. Penitential practices - fasting and self denial acts that enable us to better understand the full meaning of Easter.
2. Repentance - remembering personal inadequacies, shortcomings, and recalling our commitment can lead to inner renewal.
3. Resolution - recalling Christ’s suffering encourages us to strive for more Christian habits and attitudes.
Practices of Lent
1. Fasting - imposes self-discipline, encourages mediation/reflection
2. Special Commitments - giving up something for a greater good.
3. Good deeds - self-sacrifice to serve and benefit others. - encourage compassion and charity in your daily life, ease the pain of people in need
4. Prayer and reflection - examining your life seriously.
5. Studying Scripture - Studying Christ’s life and death can bring new meaning and relevance to events that may sometimes seem very distant from today’s world.
6. Participation in church worship services. - For where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matt 18:20
1. Observe with others.
2. Be Fair - try to incorporate practices - no guilt
3. Be realistic -
4. Be honest -
5. Develop helpful attitudes - opportunity rather than a sacrifice.
6. Choose Lenten practices that will help you become a stronger Christian.
Sources of the Lenten practices of 40 days prayer and fasting are found in
Exodus 34:27-28 Moses, I Kings 19:1-18 Elijah, Matt 4:1-2 Jesus
Begins with Self-examination - 2 Corinthians 5:20
- examine and evaluate your life as a Christian.
- Spiritual renewal - regret and change.
Reconciliation with God involves
Sorrow for sins - admitting Christ died for your sins
Commitment - more than just going to church -
Spiritual growth - Christian maturity begins when you acknowledge dependence on God.
Perseverance - All Christians have experienced times of trials and overcome temptations and despair.
Christ urges His followers not to be complacent, but to actively pursue faith.