Next week we enter a season in the Church calendar called Lent. For people who didn’t grow up going to church or who grew up in churches that didn’t mark Lent, it can be confusing. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday (excepting the Sundays) and it is a time of preparation. The basic idea is that our appreciation of the wonder of Easter is heightened by first sitting in our longing. To feast, we must first fast. This Lent I will be reading a book called God For Us: Rediscovery the Meaning of Lent and Easter to prepare myself. It offers the following explanation of Lent:
“Lent. It is a season to slowly prepare our souls. It is a time to open ourselves to the presence of God in our lives and let the angels feed us. It is a time to sit among the ashes, confident that love will abound in due time. It is a time to be washed by or tears into the water of new life, to come to real transformation and newness ready to celebrate the feast that is given us at Easter.”
Below you will find a lot of information (really an overwhelming amount of information) about ways to use Lent to prepare yourself for Easter and about ways that City Church will mark this season of the Church Calendar.
Ash Wednesday Service
March 5th at 7pm at All Saints Reformed Presbyterian Church (3000 Grove Ave.) This will be the third year we offer an Ash Wednesday Service to mark the beginning of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is a day of confession and repentance. The service will include an optional imposition of ashes as a tangible sign of our sinfulness and mortality.
We’ve referenced some helpful material on lenten practices before (here, here, and here) and encourage you to consider how you might experience Lent this year, preparing your mind and body and spirit for Easter.
Kevin Greene, Associate Pastor at West End Presbyterian Church, has put together a wonderful blog of readings for Lent.
Jennifer Murphy has a prepared a Lenten Devotional for families to use in the time before Easter. She will have copies of it available on Sunday or you can email her jennifer[at]citychurchrva.com. Additionally, Jennifer has put together a Lenten reading plan based on the Jesus Storybook Bible. A PDF of that plan is available here.
Consider fasting (refraining from food) for one meal a week or one day a week this Lent. For more specifics on how to safely and effectively fast, please talk with John or Erik. Alternatively, some people choose to fast from a certain type of food (coffee, sugar, alcohol) as a form of discipline during Lent.
Many people also use Lent not merely as a season of deprivation, but as a goad to take up a new spiritual discipline or activity. The forty days of Lent could be time for you to intentionally foster the discipline of generosity or prayer.
Kim Nix, City Church member and local artist, invites all to join her this Lent in the discipline of creating something (however small) everyday. Reach out to Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in receiving some encouragement in this discipline. She will also be organizing a get together towards the end of Lent where art is shared.
Easter Kids/Family Event
To mark our celebration of the Easter season with our kids and families, we will hold a special event open to all at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, on Saturday, April 5th at 9:30am. The event will include a special Walk through Holy Week for the kids as well as a brunch and an Easter Egg Hunt. This event provides a non-threatening opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to learn more about why the Church celebrates Easter.
The 40 days of Lent don’t include the Sundays because they serve as mini-resurrections. They are feast days when, in the midst of longing, we remember the great victory of God in Jesus. We will not preach specifically on Lenten topics, but we will shape the liturgy for those services with the church calendar in mind.
Maundy Thursday: Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter and a day that the Church commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper in the Upper Room with his disciples. City Church will not formally take part in a Maundy Thursday Service although our host church Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church will hold a service and our sister church West End Presbyterian Church also offers a service at which we are welcome.
Good Friday Service: This will mark the fourth year in a row we have observed a Good Friday service. It is a somber service of Lessons and Songs to help us mark the Passion of Jesus Christ our Lord. Join us on April 18th at 7pm at Grace Covenant.
Easter Sunday: We will have worship at our normal time--4pm. It is the highpoint of the yearly Church calendar as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Additionally, we encourage you to plan an Easter feast for your family and friends and even neighbors. Easter is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to declare through their words and their celebration our hope beyond this life and this death.