Devotions for Lent
Several years ago I followed a fast through the forty days of Lent and found that it changed my view of Easter, and that it changed me. Fasting and meditating on my weaknesses helped me grasp the intense significance of the crucifixion, and gave me a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, which then became joy on Easter Sunday. I was helped on this journey by materials from churches more Eastern and more traditional than my own.
These pages are to serve a similar purpose: to direct the Christian in preparation for Easter, through observance of Lent. While Easter is a popular holiday and may be the most important Christian holiday, many of us have a pretty weak understanding of what it is all about. For example, Easter often sneaks up on us - we may not even think of it until the annual church brunch is announced.
We are more comfortable with the joy and celebration of Easter than with the darkness that preceded it.
Lent is the antidote to this oversight. Lent is a chance to remember the dark before the dawn, the sin that sent Jesus to the cross. In the Orthodox Church, Lent is called the season of Bright Sadness, because it is a time of both celebration and mourning.
But, the inevitable question is: why dwell on the darkness at all? After all, Jesus' work is done. Death has been conquered, Christ is victorious! Why should we be sad?
If Easter is the Answer, What is the Question?
Before Christ, the world called out to God (in the words of David, King of Israel),
"How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? " (Psalm 79.5)
Easter is the once-for-all-time answer to this question. Jesus took our place on the cross to appease God's righteous anger. He went alone to be punished: separated from God and deserted by his friends. The drama of how this happened is the story of Lent. Before the Resurrection comes crucifixion; before crucifixion comes prosecution; before prosecution comes betrayal, doubt, fear, rebellion, and sin.
Lent helps us experience our part in the Passion (suffering) of Jesus. We face our humanity during Lent: we learn that sin still dwells in us, that we still carry darkness. We learn that we would likely have fallen asleep as Jesus prayed for deliverance in the garden, and we would likely have denied knowing him as he silently accepted his death sentence.
Consider the ways that you can remember your part in the passion play. On the following pages you will find a calendar of Lent, and ways for adults and kids to participate. There are scripture readings and meditations to direct your heart to God, and suggestions for ways to fast. The goal of this feature is to increase your appreciation of Easter. We hope it achieves it.
Proceed to A Calendar of Devotions for Lent
Devotions from Lent is from In My Back Yard
, a collection of explorations on community, God, and more by David Maddalena
. Copyright © David Maddalena. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
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