season: lent | holy day: ash wednesday

 On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

The Season of Lent | Ash Wednesday
the season of

What is the time span of the season? Lent begins 40 weekdays (does not include Sundays) before Easter, with a holiday called Ash Wednesday. In 2016, the Lenten Season Holy Days are:

Ash Wednesday – February 10
Palm Sunday – March 20
Maundy Thursday – March 24
Good Friday – March 25
Holy Saturday –  March 26

What’s this season all about?
The season of Lent marks Jesus’ journey to the cross. On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that we came from dust and we will return to dust. Lent beckons us to remember our humanity, to identify with Christ in his suffering, and to realize how great a chasm our Savior crossed to redeem us from our sins.

What’s the history of this observance?
“The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.” (source)

What’s it to me?
The season of Lent, starting with the earthy, dusty message of Ash Wednesday, prods me to inspect dark corners of myself and grisly truths of the world, both of which I would so much rather ignore. My sin is so invasive, so engrained. My depravity runs so deep that it required blood to run red. My desire for hope courses through me, tempting me to rush toward the victory and glory of Easter, but Lent tells me to slow down, to consider Jesus’ suffering, to consider my own suffering, to consider what I will not suffer because He suffered it for me. The Lenten themes of fasting, emptying, discipline, self-examination, contemplation and patience draw me toward a deeper faith and recognition of my union with Christ. If I am to be united with Him in His glory, to find the victory sweet, I must first ask Him to show me the horror and tragedy of the battle.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Lent calls us to look to our Savior, the Suffering Servant who counted us worthy of the taking on of sin, of shame, of suffering, though He had no fault. Just as Christ emptied himself on our behalf, we are offered a space in which we ask Him to empty us of ourselves and walk with us into the deep and lowly places.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Read, pray and meditate on “the Liturgy & Litany” for Ash Wednesday.

Ponder the concept of Lent as an invitation.

Consider “emptying yourself” (fasting) of something dear, and determine with what you will replace that activity or item. When you are tempted to partake of what has been given up:
– pray for a specific person
memorize Philippians 2:5-9 (known as the kenosis passage – Jesus’ self-emptying of his rightful position)
– memorize part of the account of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection
– write down something Jesus saved you from by taking on your sin and shame, and thank Him
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Follow Jerusalem Greer’s Lent Series from last year (family friendly).

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and gray (mourning, loss, death) to your decor (mantel, center piece, candles, flowers).

For kids: Plant forget-me-nots that will bloom around Easter. Read some of God’s commands all through Scripture in which He tells us to remember Him/His ways (or, in this case, “forget-Him-not), culminating in Christ’s words “do this in remembrance of me.”

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Lent & Ash Wednesday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.