Messages for Lent: Ian Lowe
I have often thought this period called Lent was really some sort of boring, solemn ritual, but now I see its value as a reminder of the 40-day season of reflection leading up to Easter. Yet in most evangelical churches barely mention this time of Lent at all.
I had heard about these days called ‘Lent’, though there was really no explanation of why we acknowledge them, or any sense of biblical support for them.
Some churches, on Maundy Thursday, still have a foot-washing service as a reminder that Easter is approaching, it helps people connect with God more than any traditional ritual.
Even though it's not called Lent in most churches, the reading of the Gospels and concentrating on Jesus' life - how He was both the son of God and the son of man - really puts the heart of my faith before us as we get ready to celebrate Easter and the salvation He gave us.
Lent is often overlooked by evangelical churches, we can so easily forget, not all traditions are bad and restrictive, and we evangelical churches sometimes give short shrift to Lent. Yet, many evangelicals do observe Lent, and often do so in ways that they find help in their spiritual growth.
Investing some time to consider Lent is, I believe, spiritually worthwhile. We are all aware that time is a very scarce resource for many people today due to the frantic pace of life and all the distractions. Lent gives us a way of setting apart time to focus on ‘the cross’, and ‘the cross’ goes to the heart of what our faith is all about. Reflecting on what Christ did on the cross - on our salvation - that's so important to take the time to do.
Celebrating Easter could be enhanced for us all by looking at this Lent period again, so that everything we do during Holy Week [Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services] will take on a much deeper meaning to us, because we've taken time to go through Lent. Then when Easter comes, it will seem even more significant since we've prepared for it. We've spent lots of time thinking about what our faith really means.
Lent can be an important time for us to discover more about Christ, and to strengthen and refresh our relationship with Him,.
Today our culture focuses on events rather than processes. Even as evangelicals, I think we've been trapped by the idea that salvation is a one-time event, like a sale that we've got to close. But often, it's a process in which people ask questions again and again and again, and approach God again and again and again to consider faith. So I am stepping out in faith and hoping that for us to look at Lent as a way to help people consider Jesus and take the time we need to process anew all He's done for us, so we can understand and live out a faith that's real.
I had an impression that Lent was some sort of joyless experience, but could it be this season could actually be quite a rewarding and exciting time, could it bring to each of us a sense of preparation, of anticipation, and a sense of being amazed at what Jesus did for us. The church calendar invites us to take our time and conform to Jesus' time. We take a season like Lent and we enter into Jesus' life and all that He dealt with on Earth, and then we can better deal with everything in our own lives because we've connected with Him. Remember, Jesus himself had 40 days of reflection in the wilderness in preparation before beginning his ministry in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
My understanding of Lent season was a focus on the negative, but I realise it helps to focus on the positive. Rather than focusing on giving up something, we can focus on embracing something - a spiritual discipline, like prayer or Scripture reading - that will help us to develop a heart that can actually help us become more like Jesus.
Now we don’t express our faith through rituals but it can be powerful to participate in biblical instruction, to remind ourselves of our Christian history and faith in God