Good afternoon Good Shepherd!

Well, it has been a crazy two weeks for me! I am home recovering and doing well. The kidney that I received is doing well so far. Even though I feel like going and being out, the doctors have restricted me to mostly movement around the home for at least the next month. Due to the high risk of infection spreading, I have to be careful. I miss you guys and pray for you every day.

Lent is among us. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and I was so sorry that I could not share it with you. During Lent, I will be periodically sending you devotions and readings. Our first comes from Robin Basselin and it is a short synopsis of what Lent Means.:

The Basics

Lent is the season of the Christian liturgical calendar beginning on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter. Lent lasts approximately 6 weeks. The season is 40 days long, but it’s celebrated over 46 days. This is because each Sunday of Lent is considered a ‘mini Easter’ and is not counted as part of the 40 day Lent observance. Many people think of Lent as a particularly Roman Catholic practice, but Christians have observed the tradition of Lent since the early days of Christianity. Writings about the observance of Lent date back to the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. And today, many Christian traditions and denominations – including, but not limited to the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodist, and some Reformed traditions – regularly celebrate Lent. And recently, the practice has been growing among other evangelical traditions.

What’s the purpose?

So, now we know when and how long Lent is and who observes it, but we haven’t really tackled what it’s all about. Well, Lent is meant to be a time of spiritual preparation. The purpose of the 40 day length is to recall and parallel the 40 days of temptation that Jesus endured in preparation for his public ministry:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-2closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST')
Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert while spiritually preparing for his ministry, so too Christians are to spend Lent spiritually preparing for Easter. During this time, Christians are meant to focus on spiritual self-examination, renewal, and growth. In many traditions, Lent is a time of fasting and abstinence. This is where the common “I’m giving up meat or chocolate for Lent” idea comes from. But, in addition to self-denial, Lent is also a time of active practices like alms-giving and acts of mercy, forgiveness, repentance and prayer. Many Christians ‘give up’ something during Lent in order to spend more time, money, or attention on the active practices previously mentioned. These practices of denial and action are meant to work in unison to prepare the heart to experience anew the power of Christ’s suffering, death, and ultimately, resurrection during Holy week.

Wow. Let us prepare and cleanse ourselves for the coming of our Lord on that Easter Morning.

Jesus loves you and so do I !
Pastor Steven Hicks

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