2 Compelling Reasons to Observe Lent

SO…a few things specifically about Ash Wednesday and Lent:

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.

At our Ash Wednesday service, we’ll pray through the “Litany of Pentitence,” found in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It’s a beautiful and quite thorough guide to allowing the Holy Spirit to work His conviction in us.

The “imposition of the ashes” on our foreheads is an echo of the Scripture’s injunction: “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” It’s a way of confessing our finiteness, admitting our limitations and trusting Christ to break through our own “dead ends.”

Lent itself is a season—40 days long—of fasting. (It’s technically 46 days, but the Sundays are “Feast Days”—see the next bullet point.)

Every Sunday in Lent is a “mini-Easter,” which means you can enjoy anything you had been fasting from on Sunday!

The fast is about lowering ourselves, humbling our hearts, confessing our sins and trusting in Christ. It is also a way of “sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.”

The fast is also about caring for the poor and the helpless (see: Isaiah 58). Often, a Lenten offering is taken each week for the poor. (I encourage people to take the money they saved by giving up whatever it is they were giving up—coffee, chocolate, etc.—and put it in the Lenten offering box.)

I’m no pro at this. But I can tell you this discovery—or recovery—of the Church’s path for spiritual formation has been refreshing to me. I pray it is for you as well.

May the Spirit lead you to Christ.

[For further reading from me on this, here are a few blogs I wrote, one called Why I’m Observing Lent This Year” and one called “Sacred Rhythms: Preparing for Lent, 2011.”]

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Glenn Packiam is one of the associate senior pastors at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the lead pastor of New Life Downtown, a congregation of New Life Church. Glenn earned a Doctorate in Theology and Ministry from Durham University in the UK. He also holds BA in Theological/Historical Studies and Masters in Management from Oral Roberts University, and a Graduate Certificate in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Glenn and his wife, Holly, have four children.