What is Lent?

Lent is a forty-day season of repentance and self-examination that culminates in Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives—such as a wedding, graduation, or move to a new city—Lent invites us to draw near to God and prepare our hearts for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating his resurrection.

So Lent is a journey. It is a journey with Jesus into his life and into the life he has to offer to us. Perhaps Lent sounds strange or is new to you. Maybe you thought it was only for Catholics. We encourage you to give it a try this year. Experiment with this ancient pathway for drawing near to God.

The practice of a forty-day season began during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty is based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness before he began his public ministry.

This year (2024), the forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday (Feb 14) and continue through Holy Week (until Mar 31). Sundays are not “counted” as part of the forty days; they are considered days of “feasting” and rest. Lent culminates in the beginning of a new season on Easter morning (Mar 31).

Engaging Lent

The Chaos of Sin

This year, our Lenten series is on sin. We are fully aware this topic does not feel fun or easy, which is why we don’t want to talk about sin; we’re uncomfortable with it. We’d rather avoid it. But let’s talk about it. And the pressing question is: why do we sin over and over and over?

We invite you to engage Lent this year in a few tangible ways:

  • Join us for worship each Sunday and for our special services (see schedule below)
  • Give up an object or activity as a way to make space to experience God’s forgiveness
  • Take up a new practice in order to draw closer to God this season and prepare for Holy Week (e.g., a silent walk each day, prayer each morning, an act of kindness, etc.)

Worship Service Schedule at NDC

Feb 14: Ash Wednesday service at 7pm
Feb 18 : First Sunday of Lent services at 8:30 and 10am
Feb 25 : Second Sunday of Lent services at 8:30 and 10am
Mar 3: Third Sunday of Lent services at 8:30 and 10am
Mar 10: Fourth Sunday of Lent services at 8:30 and 10am
Mar 17: Fifth Sunday of Lent services at 8:30 and 10am
Mar 24: Palm Sunday services at 8:30 and 10am
Mar 29: Good Friday service at 7:30pm
Mar 31: Easter services at 8:30 and 10am

Giving Up

Historically, Christians have ‘given something up’ during Lent as a way to focus on their relationship with God. This is the part of Lent most people do not like. It’s not very fun. And it can come across like we’re trying to impress God with our sacrifice.

But giving something up is more about letting go and making space. Consider giving up or letting go of something that has become a burden or distraction in your life, or perhaps something that has begun to exert too much influence over your heart. When you give something up for forty days—even a really simple object like dessert—it has a way of focusing your heart on something important that you may have been neglecting.

Here are a few suggestions of objects you might give up:

  • Certain foods such as meat, sugar/sweets/desserts, processed foods, a specific meal each day (like lunch), or going out to eat
  • Certain beverages such as coffee/caffeine, alcohol, soda, or anything other than water
  • Technology that often intrudes into our lives, like social media, certain apps, or surfing the internet
  • Forms of media/entertainment, such as television, movies, Netflix, music, blogs, podcasts, or the news
  • Shopping or purchasing anything that is not necessary
  • Any leisure activities that have become all-consuming

There are many options. The idea is not to kill yourself. But letting go of something for forty days may not be comfortable either. Ideally, it would be something that you miss regularly, something that unnecessarily fills up too much time, creates too much stress, or distracts you from more important endeavors. If you’re still not sure about this practice, give it a try and see what you learn. The goal is not perfection or success. Our intention is to make space in our hearts and lives to look inward and experience God’s kindness in a new way during this season.