Most people like to be prepared. For example, if you are going to get married, planning for the big day takes months (sure it can be done quickly, but the preparation has become part of the moment). As well, we like to be prepared to make a presentation at work or school, for it’s not only embarrassing to be unprepared as it shows a lack of interest, it also in some ways devalues the subject matter and the people’s time who we are making presentation to. This goes the same for any performer or even those providing a service. See, it’s good to be prepared.
Kristi and I walked into a business the other day and it was obvious they were not prepared. There was trash around the entrance, no real signage to find the front door, shelves were disheveled and unorganized, and employees were wandering the store not really trying to help anyone (now we did realize they were in the process of moving). They were not prepared for customers.
Sometime back we visited a new eating establishment. It was their first day of operation and employees eagerly greeted and explained their menu. The place was clean, well decorated (one of the managers straightened a flower display, dusting the counter and making sure it was just right), all the drink dispensers were working and plenty of condiments were well stocked and available. The food was delivered quickly and tasted great and we were asked two or three times if there was anything else we needed. It was obvious there had been a lot of preparation.
Well, today (if you are reading this Wednesday, March 5th) is the beginning of a time of preparation called Lent. Lent is the 40 days (plus Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. The word ‘Lent’ comes from a Germanic and Dutch word meaning long and was later applied to the season of spring. These six weeks before Easter were set up by early church leaders to help people prepare for the high holy week of Easter. This has been a staple part of the church calendar in the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations.
For the most part, this tradition has been a blessing and wonderful practice to be prepared to celebrate the wonder, the joy, the majesty, and the awesomeness of Jesus rising from the dead. That’s what Lent was, and for the most part was created to do, to prepare us for the remembrance and observance of one of the most important Biblical realities of our faith.
Now sure, some have pushed this season of Lent to the unbiblical idea that it earns God’s favor or cancels out sin. This push of Lent is not Biblically sound, as there is no action of ours that makes us more or less loved by God (Romans 8:37-39). It is only through Jesus’ death on the cross that the devastating effects of sin are dealt with (John 14:6, Romans 5:17, 1 John 4:10). Because of this unfortunate turn of the practice of the Lenten season, many churches have stopped or dissociated themselves from this liturgy. Yet there is nothing wrong with preparing ourselves (like we do for a big party, a wedding, or important presentation) for the high holy time of Easter.
So this morning I started a Lenten study for my personal Bible study and I would like to invite you to join me! You can add this to your own personal study or just jump in with me. It’s really a simple plan of reading different events through the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that are all about Jesus; His teachings and interactions. Through these we will learn not only the teaching at hand, but what these passaged reveal about Jesus.
So here is the daily reading for the next 10 days and each week (starting next week) I will share a brief thought from my time with the Lord. In these daily readings seek the central teaching being expressed and look for what it is revealing about who Jesus is, and what that means to you. I believe the Holy Spirit will not only challenge you, but prepare your heart and soul for Easter week.
Wednesday, March 5: Matthew 4:1-11 (Also see Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13)
Thursday, March 6: John 2:1-11
Friday, March 7: John 2:13-22
Saturday, March 8: John 3:1-21
Sunday, March 9: John 3:22-36
Monday, March 10: John 4:5-26
Tuesday, March 11: John 4:27-42
Wednesday, March 12: Matthew 4:18-22 (Also see Mark 1:16-20)
Thursday, March 13: Mark 1:21-28 (Also see Luke 4:31b-37)
Friday, March 14: Matthew 8:14-17 (Also see Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41)
I am really looking forward to this time of preparation, and even more so that you will be with me. I can’t wait to see and experience a deeper connection to the Lord. This will be not only fun but impactful. I do hope you join me or put in some other preparatory efforts for it will make a difference.
Seeking to Prepare for the Celebration of Easter Week with You,
P.S. Many people give up something for Lent. It’s a kind of exercise in self-discipline, which is always a good thing. We work out our bodies and do physical exercises to gain strength, why not with our character. Self-discipline/self-control is a key character (see Galatians 5:22-23) So if you are wanting some practice in that area, go ahead and maybe have some friends do it with you. I know for me I’m shooting for a lower intake of sugar.