Lent and the need for focus

Here is a preface I have written for the 2010 Lenten Reader for our Andover community.  As we make our way toward Lent, I am reminded of the need for intentional focus upon the Cross and it’s impact in our lives and the world. I hope you are already beginning to put a game plan together for the Lenten Season…

The word “lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencten” which means the season of Spring in which we see a “lengthening” of days.  Lent is a season in the church that extends for a 40 day period (excluding Sundays) that begins on Ash Wednesday (2.17.10) and ends the Saturday before Easter (4.3.10).  It is an intentional time of reflection, repentance, fasting, and preparation that the Christian community does together.
The 40 days of preparation is modeled after Jesus’ 40 days of fasting, preparation and testing in the wilderness after his baptism where he was readied for his ministry.  This is why part of Lent’s tradition is to fast from something in order to condition the soul to look toward God and not temporal appetites.  Many traditions observe a fast from eating meat on Fridays while other tradition have added to the tradition of fasting a component of taking up a spiritual discipline during the 40 day period as a means of preparation. Whatever your preference, I encourage you to lay down or take up something in order to have an ever present reminder of of the season’s meaning.
We will be using this Lenten reader as a way of drawing our community into an intentional time of personal and corporate preparation for Easter.  You will find within the reader a daily (Monday-Friday) Scripture passage, devotional thought, prayer and place for your personal reflections.  Use this resource in whatever way that works best for you.
Some may find early in the morning a perfect time to read, prayer and reflect while others may prefer other times in the day.  The key is to consistently set aside time.  If you fall behind, do not panic, simply move ahead in the reading guilt free!
As we enter this season of preparation and remembrance of what God did for us through the giving of Jesus, may we renew our commitment to Christ and seek his ways afresh.