Lent is the forty day period of preparation in which the people of God get ready to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection in Holy Week. It is a time for seeing ourselves and God clearly, sharpening our vision through prayer and fasting. As we progress through Ash Wednesday, the forty days of Lent and the drama of Holy Week, we begin to see ourselves and the world as they are in God.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, when we receive ashes on our foreheads and hear the words, “From dust you came, and to dust you will return.” Throughout the rest of Lent, we let ourselves feel and acknowledge our sin, our limits and the vulnerability of our mortal human lives. Doing so leads us into greater humility, but it also unlocks greater joy when, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate that Christ has conquered sin and death, once and for all.
Find ways to practice Lent with Immanuel below.
Read Scripture during Lent
Soak up God’s Word with Immanuel this Lent! We have created some Scripture bookmarks that you can take home, tuck in your Bible and use to follow the Daily Office Lectionary readings throughout the season of Lent (February 22 – April 8).
Each day includes readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels and the New Testament; we hope you will join us in meditating on Scripture during this time of preparation for Easter.
Pick up your bookmarks (and view other Lenten resources) at the welcome table. You can also download the PDF and print/cut at home. (Print instructions: 100% scale, double-sided, flip on short edge.)
New to Lent?
Here’s where to start!
- Worship at a local church, preferably every Sunday and during special services (Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday). Lent is an important season to be with the people of God.
- Ask Jesus to give you a specific vision for your Lenten journey this year, and devote yourself to training for that vision as you move toward Easter.
- Seek out spiritual support (e.g. a pastor, spiritual director, or small group) where you can confess your sins and receive encouragement.
- Remember to take Sundays as “feast” days (aka “mini-Easters”) when you can rest from the fasts you’ve been observing during the rest of the week.
Common Lenten Practices
Slip under the gentle harness of Lent, which has three strands: fasting, prayer and alms-giving.
FASTING is a willing abstention from eating food, drinking or other forms of consumption, to make space in our souls to feast on Jesus.
PRAYER is participating in the life of God by talking with and listening to him, whether in solitude or with others.
ALMS-GIVING is a direct participation in God’s generosity as we give away our resources in love to our neighbor.
There are some themes that often arise when people describe their experience of practicing Lent. However, this list is not exhaustive, nor prescriptive; God’s activity in your life cannot be predicted or controlled!
HUMILITY: Humility is the capacity to recognize who we are in relationship to the living God. The path of Lent reveals our mortality, sin and limitations. Often, the Holy Spirit reveals personal and corporate blind spots during Lent. Our hunger pains, headaches and failures during Lent become living reminders of our great need for the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.
RE-ORDERED LOVES: The gentle harness of Lent is designed to loosen our unhealthy attachments to creation (including food, drink, and money) so that we may enjoy a deeper bond to the Creator. We learn to internalize and enjoy the love of Christ during Lent.
PURITY: Soren Kierkegaard said that “purity of heart is to will one thing.” During Lent, we see the incompatibility between our commitment to Jesus and our dabbling in idolatry. We confess our sins and thereby take hold of the forgiveness that is ours in the Gospel.
JOY: As we give ourselves to him in our suffering, Jesus Christ supplies us with a lasting spiritual overflow and the consolation of the Holy Spirit. This is to be distinguished from a “spiritual high,” which cannot be sustained over time or during suffering. Easter Sunday and corporate worship during Lent grants us a taste of heaven.
RENEWED IMAGINATIONS: As we progress through events of Ash Wednesday, the 40 days of Lent and the drama of Holy Week, we begin to see ourselves and the world as they are in God. The events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection become for us a window into the new creation (otherwise known as the Kingdom of God) which gives us a secure identity and invites us to participate in the Kingdom of God!
DEPENDENCE: During Lent, we unlearn the lie that we are self-made, self-contained individuals. We learn to draw our strength from the life of God and the bonds of affection with our fellow Christians.
Check out The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent, by our rector Father Aaron Damiani.
“Lent has been described as a ‘springtime for the soul,’ a season of clearing to make room for growth. The Good of Giving Up will show you why, encouraging you to participate in this rich spiritual journey.”