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Explanation of Lent.
Lent is about the gospel. It is a period of time set aside in the life of the Church to focus on the death, life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a season of self-denial and repentance; we recognize our depravi- ty and the darkness that resides within. It is only when we begin to see our own sin, that we can more fully recognize our need for a Savior.
Lent is also a season of reflection on His great mercy and the atoning work of the cross. In the face of our darkness, we pine for the true Light. We fall on our knees and turn to the great Rescuer, who willingly suffered on our behalf in order that we might live. We count ourselves dead to sin, so that we might be alive in Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:11)
The season of Lent is traditionally observed for 40 days, excluding Sundays, between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The number 40 parallels the biblical accounts of the flood narrative (Gen 6-8), Moses on Sinai (Exod 24:12-18), Elijah’s journey (1 Kings 19:1-12) and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:9-12, Luke 4:1-13). Each week, participants traditionally fast from some- thing during the week and feast on Sundays. This continues each week throughout Lent and culminates in the final week, called Holy Week, which parallels the final days of Jesus on earth, with Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:1-11), Maundy Thursday (Matt 26:17-31), Good Friday (Matt 27:31-56) and Resurrection (Easter) Sunday (Matt 28).
Lent at Emmaus
As a community, we desire to journey with Christ into the wilder- ness, through a series of fasts and feasts throughout the Lenten season. We don’t want to just deny ourselves for the sake of denial, but for the sake of communing more deeply with Christ. Rather than simply subtracting something from our lives, this is an opportunity for us to add something greater. Lent is not about legalism or patting ourselves on the back for being more disciplined. Lent is an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and live more fully in the amazing hope and grace of the gospel narrative. We invite the Holy Spirit to consecrate this season, to shine light on the clutter of our hearts and minds, and to make room for more of Him.
Although encouraged to pursue a complete fast on many of the weeks, you are encouraged to plan ahead the degree to which you will engage in the suggested weekly fast. For example, Week 2 involves a fast from food. You may choose to fast from one meal a day; others will do an entire day; others still might choose a fast of multiple days. For some, a food fast may not be advisable at all (i.e. pregnant woman, someone with history of eating disorder). Week 7 involves a fast from sleep. You are neither expected nor encouraged to abstain from sleep for the entire week. However, the hope is that we might set our alarms earlier or stay up a little later and devote one entire night or morning to prayer. However you chose to participate this Lent, we pray it would be purposeful and would strengthen your trust in Jesus.
We are not meant to walk this journey alone. In our community groups, in our Sunday gatherings and times in between, we want to be quick to repent and quick to pursue Jesus. We stand with believers all over the world, past and present, this Lent and say—Who will rescue us from this death? Thanks be to God - it’s only through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:24-25)