Join us at NDC for the season of Lent. If you’re new to church or Christianity, Lent can sound weirdly religious. Actually, this season is one of the best opportunities to explore your spiritual journey and pursue wholeness and healing in your life.
What is Lent?
The death and resurrection of Jesus are at the heart of our faith, and Good Friday and Easter Sunday are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian year. Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives—such as a wedding, graduation, or moving to a new city—Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
The practice of a forty-day preparation period began in the Christian church during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty carries biblical significance based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday (March 1) and continue through holy week (until April 16). These forty days do not include Sundays, which are considered ‘feast days’ for celebration and worship. But the overall focus of the season of Lent is a time of repentance, renewal, and turning to God.
At New Denver Church, we practice Lent together in three important ways. We encourage you to participate in each.
Gather with our community on Sundays during Lent at 9 am or 5 pm. We’ll be discussing the important themes listed below. We also have a special Ash Wednesday service on March 1 and a Good Friday service on April 14.
February 26: The Good of Lent
March 1: Ash Wednesday service at 7 pm
March 5: True Repentance
March 12: True Feasting
March 19: True Life
March 26: True Faith
April 2: True Grace
April 9: True Surrender
April 14: Good Friday service at 7:30 pm
April 16: Easter!
Historically, Christians have ‘given something up’ during Lent as a way to focus on their relationship with God. Most things that people give up or fast from are not inherently bad, but any of them can become overly important in our lives. The idea is to abstain from these subtle but powerful influences and refocus our attention on what God wants to teach us. It is an opportunity to forgo these good things that we enjoy in order to identify with Jesus and remember the sacrifice that he made for us. Here are a few suggestions of things you can give you up during Lent (just try one):
- Certain foods such as meat, sweets and desserts, or processed foods
- A specific meal each day or going out to eat
- Certain beverages such as coffee/caffeine, alcohol, or anything other than water
- Forms of media/entertainment, such as television, movies, Netflix, music, blogs, or news radio
- Technology that often intrudes into our lives, like social media, texting, smart phones, or the internet
- Shopping or purchasing anything that is not necessary
- Sports, hobbies, or leisure activities that have become all-consuming
- Checking stock tickers, financial accounts, or money-related stresses
- Destructive habits or addictions like tobacco use, pornography, or gambling
There are plenty of other options. If something crosses your mind and you think, ‘but I don’t know if I can live without that for forty days!’ then you might consider giving it up during Lent.
Christians also take up a new activity or practice during Lent. You could pray every morning for 10 minutes; take daily walks with God; write a note of encouragement to someone each day; spend 30 minutes in silence every evening; or take up journaling or meeting with someone regularly to share your thoughts.
As a community, this year, we will take up the practice of reading the Gospel of Matthew together utilizing a free devotional called Lent for Everyone. Go to bible.com; download the app to your phone or computer; then search for the plan “Lent for Everyone” and begin the journey on Ash Wednesday, March 1. Each day contains a section of Scripture and a short devotional reading. You might choose a Bible translation that is new or different to you, such as the Message or New Living Translation (NLT).
If you’re giving up your phone or computer(!), or you’d prefer a physical book, you can order Lent for Everyone Through Matthew here.
You can’t do it all. Don’t overwhelm yourself or get caught up in the tasks. And be gracious to yourself; there will be days that you forget or stumble when it comes to giving up or taking up. That’s okay. The goal is not perfection or success. Our intention is to make space in our lives to look inward and experience God in a new way during this season. For more on how to do this and get the most out of Lent, see Tish Harrison Warren’s article on giving up and taking up.