Did you know that Lent means springtime?
Lush leaves and colorful flowers die in the fall, but bud and live again in the spring.
Christians from all cultures customarily celebrate Lent as a 40 day spiritual season of accelerated growth.
Why 40 days?
Because Lent follows the events of the life of Jesus which began when he was tempted by Satan for 40 days.
But how can this Lenten season accelerate our growth in grace?
During Lent, spiritual growth is accelerated as we
And show up.
First, why would giving up anything accelerate growth?
I had a friend in high school who gave up eating chocolate and meat during Lent and I thought “what a downer!”
But then I realized that Jesus had to give up food and all the comforts of life when he went into the wilderness.
He learned that good resources like food, friends and fun cannot be relied on as ultimate satisfiers.
In the wilderness he unfastened his deepest desires from stuff and fastened his heart on the living words of His father.
What about you? Would you consider giving up a food, beverage, or practice that your heart has become addicted to?
Fasting was a common practice among God’s people. (Exodus 34:38; 2 Sam. 12:16; 1 Kings 19:8; Ps. 35:13; Joel 1:14; Jon. 3:5)
Will it hurt? Of course!
When you rely on a good thing that has become an ultimate thing-- and then disconnect from it—ouch!
But during those 40 days, Jesus connected to his father and grew in intimacy like never before.
Secondly, we accelerate our growth by taking up.
How about taking up a new spiritual practice for 40 days?
During the 40 days leading up to Easter, many Christians have taken up and reflected upon Lenten readers.
These are short meditations, written by brothers and sisters in Christ, to assist you in savoring the events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Why would Christians write, distribute and then read these meditations together?
Because this was the time of the year when new believers in Christ were learning the basics of the Christian story before their public baptism on Easter Sunday.
As a show of support, everyone in the church family would read along with the new believers preparing for baptism.
Everyone took up the practice of remembering what Jesus had done to save them from their sins.
Give up, take up, and lastly show up if you want to accelerate your growth in grace.
Ever notice that some people at church slowly drift away from worship services and small groups?
Life is crazy busy and all of our hearts are “prone to wander.”
During lent, leaders, along with the whole church family seek out those that have drifted away.
Drifters are warmly welcomed back into the church family with open arms of grace.
The drifters, overwhelmed by mercy, kindness and grace, begin to show up again for worship of the living God.
Remember, it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Is there a person that you love and have lost touch with in our church family?
How about showing up in their life with a text message, a call, or an in-person visit as you invite them back into the throbbing life of the church?
Or maybe you have drifted during the fall and winter seasons and desire fresh buds of life. It’s time to remember your vows and reconnect to Christ.
It’s time to return and show up and soon we’ll all shout “He is risen” on that climactic last day of Lent.
Imagine the growth in grace we’ll experience when we all
And show up.
Because of the risen Christ,
Metro North Church