What is Lent?
Feb 20, 2012
Just as we do today, the early Church developed a number of traditions with the desire to draw people into the gospel. Among the first was the season of Lent. By the close of the Fourth Century, the Church had established a 40 day period leading up to Easter Sunday in which new converts were instructed and led in fasting, prayer, and acts of charity as they prepared for their baptism. Wanting to show solidarity with these young believers, the Church decided to all join in this tradition. For new Christians who were to be baptized on Easter, Lent was a time to prepare for their new identity in baptism. For those who had already been baptized, it was a time of self-examination so that they might reclaim their identity as those who had been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with him to new life.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 22, Apostles Church will enter this ancient practice as we prepare ourselves to commemorate the death of Jesus on Good Friday and his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is intended to be a day to remind us of our human frailty in view of God’s glory. As God says to Adam on pronouncing sin’s curse in Genesis 3, “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Contrary to many assumptions, Lent is not primarily a season of pained meditation on the suffering and cross of Christ. Rather, it is a season of repentance and prayer, fasting and self-denial, reading of God’s word, reflection, and renewal, all designed to prepare the worshipers for the remembrance of Christ’s death and celebration of his resurrection during Holy Week.
Keeping with some of the older traditions of Lent, we will not sing songs during communion to create a more contemplative atmosphere, only to return this worship for Easter’s celebration. Many will fast from television, foods, certain technologies, or activities that distract them from higher pursuits. We encourage you to consider abstaining from things that have gained mastery over your life. Remember, we are not withholding good from ourselves but are seeking a greater Good. Lent is a time to eradicate obstacles and moderate what has become too excessive.
At Apostles Church, we hope to devote ourselves during Lent to 40 Days of Prayer. Each week, we will spend time meditating on the Scriptures and praying through themes, seeking the Lord for gospel renewal in our lives, our church, our city, and our world. To register for 40 Days of Prayer, please click here. We sincerely desire that Lent be a season of faith, love, repentance, and growth in the gospel.
- John Piper's list of preparations we can give ourselves and our families to during this season
- Noel Piper's Lenten Lights (a tradition to do with your family/roommates/alone on a weekly basis in Lent or on a daily basis in Holy Week)
- A Gospel Coalition recommended read "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross" full of chapters written on the cross of Christ - contributing authors include Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and more