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Spring Into Growth: The Lent Experience

Spring Into Growth: The Lent Experience

This time of year, most of us are beginning to long for spring. As the days get just a little longer, our anticipation grows. The word “Lent” actually originates with an Old English word meaning “lengthen” and is tied to the spring season and in several other languages is the shorthand for the spring season.

Historically in the Christian community, the anticipation for the spring season became an expectation, a hope for Easter, Resurrection Sunday. So early Christ Followers desired to participate and prepare for “the days of the Lord’s passion and resurrection” (Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter). Ash Wednesday (which takes place on February 14 this year) marks the beginning of that participation and preparation. Some services that take place that day have an ash cross put on participants’ foreheads as a sign of both humility and commitment. The attitude is that “this is not church as usual.” We want to remember and identify with Jesus with anticipation and be activity seeking God through a heightened awareness that spiritual disciples (Bible reading, prayer, generosity, sacrifice, etc..) bring to our walk with Christ.

Robert Webber wrote that “Lent calls us back to God, back to basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls on us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord – the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life.” (Webber, Ancient-Future Time, 2004, p.99)

This is why we are calling this time of spiritual focus “Spring Into Growth: The Lent Experience.” It is a time of remembering the story of Christ as he begins His journey to the cross. It is a time of reflection, to intentionally focus on the spiritual realities of life. Lent challenges us to put to death our sin and apathy towards God and others. But it is also an opportunity to re-experience the joys of God’s atonement, forgiveness, and ultimate redemption.  

What are some practical ideas to do this? One idea is to fast from something/give up something and replace that time, energy, or even money spent on that item with the development or increased focus on a spiritual discipline (see list below). For example, you could give up shopping (completely, or from unnecessary items), eating something specific (meat, sugar, fast food), or take a break from social media. Be creative, with your focus on accelerated spiritual growth in your relationship with God. 

Spiritual Disciplines List*

(more info at https://www.soulshepherding.org/spiritual-disciplines-list/)

Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)

Solitude Silence

Fasting Sabbath (Rest)

Secrecy Submission

Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)

Bible Reading/Study Worship

Soul Friendship Prayer

Personal Reflection Service/Giving

*Not a complete list! Any activity that helps you to grow your reliance upon the Spirit of Jesus might make your spiritual disciplines list.

To grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior we need to practice some tried and true disciplines from both major categories of disciplines: abstinence (self-denial) and engagement (connecting relationally with God and others). Using one side without the other will not lead to much growth. Abstinence makes space for deeper engagement with God and others and engagement gives strength to endure the challenges of abstinence.

During Lent this year, Pastor Dave is going to give up the use of his iPhone for the first and last hour of each day. He wants the first and last inputs of his day to be focused on Christ. This doesn’t mean he won’t answer his phone, use the Kindle app, or text if he deems it necessary. During his iPhone-free time, Dave will try to have a more open heart to what God is saying to him through Bible readings. See resource recommendations below.

“Spring Into Growth: The Lent Experience” is not a right or wrong thing. It is completely optional, but the hope is that there would be an excitement to try a few new spiritual disciplines as you move towards the most significant event in history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter Sunday. We hope you will join us as we look towards this special season of the year where the days get longer.

Book Recommendations

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard  https://a.co/d/1gA5bT6

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster  https://a.co/d/0KRt7bA

Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year by Robert E. Webber  https://a.co/d/cSvJmro

YouVersion Recommendations (bible.com/app)

Find plans about Lent at http://bit.ly/YVplansLent.

Lent: A Journey Through 7 Spiritual Disciplines www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/35748

Make Space for What Matters www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/24043

RightNow Media Recommendations 

Text “SENECACC” to 49775 or visit bit.ly/SenecaCC to sign up for your free account.

The Lent Experience (7 video sessions, average of 5 minutes each) https://app.rightnowmedia.org/en/content/details/468550