The Christmas decorations have all been taken down, the smell of squirrel is gone from the sanctuary, and a new year/new decade has begun. I’m excited and blessed to start this new decade here with you in Grand Prairie!
In a few weeks, Christians across the globe will observe the season of Lent, which is a time of prayer, fasting, and self-examination as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. Traditionally, Lent is associated closely with baptism. It is a time for all Christians, whether they are new to the faith or have been believers for many years, to reflect deeply on what it truly means to be a baptized disciple of Jesus Christ.
For all you history buffs in the congregation, here is a little background. In the early church, Lent was a special time of learning and training for new believers and followers of Christ. After this season of preparation, new Christians were baptized and welcomed fully into the fellowship of the church. This was doneduring the great Easter Vigil on Easter Sunday, a service which often lasted from midnight until dawn!
In many churches and faith communities today, Lent continues to be a time of nurture and preparation for Christians seeking to be baptized or confirmed in the faith. And although most churches no longer start their Easter services at midnight or carry on until dawn, baptism and welcoming new church members are still common in many churches on Easter morning.
Lent lasts 40 days (just like Advent), excluding Sundays. The number 40 is significant and symbolic, as it reminds us of other important events in scripture that also took place over 40 days.
We remember the rain falling for 40 days as Noah and the animals waited on the Ark during the great flood, hoping to find dry land. We remember Moses going up on Mount Sinai to talk to God, when he received the 10 Commandments. We remember Elijah fleeing to Mt. Horeb to escape being killed by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, after he defeated and then destroyed all the priests of Baal.
We remember Jonah attempting to flee from God and ending up in the belly of the whale, and his trip to Nineveh to call that city to repent or be destroyed. And perhaps most significantly, we remember Jesus’ time in the wilderness after his baptism, when he was tempted by the devil and cared for by angels.
Ash Wednesday on February 26 begins our observation of Lent here at FPCGP. Since I am writing this in early January, I haven’t planned the specifics of our service yet! But we will be gathering at the church that day to worship together and begin our own 40-day journey of prayer and preparation.
May Lent be a blessed time for us, as we prepare for Easter and reflect on how we can grow in faith and discipleship in Christ.