Now, you might be asking: “what is Lent, and why is a Pentecostal church following it?”. Good questions! Lent is an ancient practice of the church which is over 1500 years old. It is a 40 day season of preparation for Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Easter Sunday. This preparation takes many shapes, but usually involves forms of fasting, self-examination and confession of sin (an intentional repentance from desires that distract us from Jesus) as well as acts of generosity, charity and service (which are intentional responses to God’s grace towards us). On one hand, Lent is not something found in the bible - at least not in the sense that it was practiced in the first century church. But on the other hand, Lent resonates deeply with biblical images: from Israel’s 40 year wilderness journey to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and Paul’s repeated pleadings to his churches that they resist the desires of the “flesh” and live life by the Spirit. While it used to be unusual for a Pentecostal church to follow Lent (although not so unusual anymore!), we choose to do so for several good reasons:
We join our worship with the broader Church - demonstrating the unity that Christ himself desires for his body, the Church. (John 17)
We want to be fully devoted to Jesus: renouncing sin and being renewed by the Spirit to join in the mission of Jesus.
We want to be mature and balanced: to live in ways that demonstrate the cross and resurrection, power and service, faithfulness and love, suffering and joy.
It’s likely that this year we understand this better than before: for having just been through a corporate season of fasting and prayer we are likely more aware of our weakness, our sin and our need for a Saviour. Lent is simply another opportunity to repent, to seek first the kingdom of God, and to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s a time of preparation where we let go of habits and attitudes that hinder our following Jesus, and more diligently create space for new habits of devotion that draw us into a deeper obedience to Jesus.
The important thing is: at the end of the day Lent is not about what you give up. It’s about what you gain: a deeper freedom in following Jesus, a deeper knowledge of yourself, and a deeper experience of God’s grace. These are all gifts of the Holy Spirit who is at work to transform us into the image of Christ, enabling us to do the works of Christ, and fills us with the joy of Christ.
Bless you this Lenten season as you seek to receive and live into all of the promises of Jesus’ death and resurrection for your life and the life of Redemption Church.
Our song for the season
Check back each week to read a small testimony from someone of a moment/time/experience in which they have had to return/come to Jesus.