Join us at NDC for the season of Lent. If you’re new to church or Christianity, Lent can sound a bit strange. But followers of Jesus have found incredible meaning in this season for over 1500 years. We think it is one of the best opportunities to explore your spiritual journey and pursue wholeness and healing in 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 (February 14) and continue through holy week (until March 31). 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.
This year during Lent, we will follow the story of Exodus: when God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt and led them through the wilderness into a new life with him. Lent is like that: a time in our lives when we reflect on the things that burden and enslave us and trust God to help us “leave Egypt” for a new life with him.
– What do you need to leave behind this season of Lent? –
– Where do you feel stuck, like a wandering in a wilderness? –
– What kind of new life does God want to lead you toward? –
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, we will take up the practice of reading Scripture together during Lent. We will follow two stories: the Book of Exodus, which remembers how God delivered the Hebrew people, and the Book of John, which tells how Jesus came to be the Savior of all humanity. Below is a schedule of readings for you to follow each week. Every week, there are several chapters to read from Exodus and John. You can do these all in one day or stretch out your reading over the whole week. You might choose a Bible translation that is new or different to you, such as the Message or New Living Translation (NLT). We also hope you’ll join us on Sundays as we worship God and consider the “Egypts” we need to leave behind.
We’ve put together a Spotify list of songs that we think capture some of the themes of Lent that we’ll be exploring. Consider making this list your “soundtrack” for our 40-day journey. Follow this link.
SCHEDULE OF SERVICES AND READINGS
February 11: NDC at 9 am | Feb 12-17 read Exodus 1-2, John 1-4
February 14: Ash Wednesday service at 7 pm
February 18: NDC at 9 am | Feb 19-24 read Exodus 3-4, John 5-8
February 25: NDC at 9 am | Feb 26-Mar 3 read Exodus 5-11, John 9
March 4: NDC at 9 am | Mar 5-10 read Exodus 12-17, John 10
March 11: NDC at 9 am | Mar 12-17 read Exodus 18-20, John 11
March 18: NDC at 9 am | Mar 19-24 read Exodus 32-34, John 12
March 25: NDC at 9 am | Mar 26-30 read John 13-19
March 30: Good Friday service at 7:30 pm
April 1: NDC Easter Celebration (see website for times and details)
FINALLY, REMEMBER THIS
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 suggestions on how to do this and get the most out of Lent, see Tish Harrison Warren’s article on giving up and taking up.