A Time to Prepare: Lent
by Jake Hess
I had a Covid wedding.
The ceremony was simple, the food was quant, the crowd was light. But even with the necessary reductions of having a wedding in the middle of a pandemic, the season of preparation leading up to the big event still felt like a whirl-wind of activity. There were family and friends to communicate with, food to plan, pictures to take, materials to purchase, premarital counseling to attend. Not to mention all that’s involved with joining the lives of two people forever! It was a lot… but I was so glad to have the season of engagement to prepare for it all. It’s not like I felt totally ready when the big day came, but imagine if I didn’t have any time for preparation leading up to the wedding day. If I had to move from single to married overnight, I assure you I would not have been ready to step up on the stage and kiss the bride.
It’s the same for all of us. We take time to prepare for major events like weddings, graduations, moves and job transitions because we need that season in between to recognize where we came from as we move forward into the new reality of who we are becoming. The thing that we tend to lose sight of, however, is that we are always in the process of change. Nothing in life is static, no matter how mundane the weekly grind feels. This is why the church calendar, and Lent in particular, can be such a gift. It helps us to mark time not by the constant ebb and flow of consumerism or the monotony of school and summer break, but by the life of Jesus and the rhythms of redemption.
It’s important to keep this in mind as we move into the season of Lent, because, just like the period of engagement leading to marriage, Lent is a season of preparation for celebrating the most important event of all time: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
So, what is Lent?
Lent is a time for self-examination and deep meditation on the good news of the gospel. Celebrated throughout the Church since the third and fourth centuries, Lent was originally reserved as a time of preparation for those seeking baptism on Easter Sunday, but it has become a season of repentance, recommitment, and anticipation for all believers as we look forward to the events of Holy Week. It spans a total of forty days, from Ash Wednesday to Easter–minus Sundays, which are considered “little Easters.” The number forty connects to many stories throughout the Bible, but for the purposes of Lent, it relates specifically to the years of Israel’s wandering in the desert and to the forty days Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Practicing Lent is our way of following Jesus into an extended season of prayer and fasting–a time to deny ourselves the comforts of life so that we can focus on the story of Jesus and make room for deeper intimacy with God.
An opportune time to celebrate Lent together as a church.
The Hallows is in a season of preparation itself. As old things pass away, new things are coming to life, but we need this time of transition for God to prepare us for what’s next. Just like I needed time for God to prepare me for sharing my life with the woman I love, God is calling The Hallows to do the deep work of discernment as He forms us and remakes us into a community of faith that can best be used by Him to reach the city with the gospel.
Easter is not something that should sneak up on us, leaving us unprepared to exult in the love of God displayed on the cross.
To truly step into the good news of Easter, we need time to meditate on the life of Jesus and on the sorrow of His death. We need a time of preparation as we look forward to the next season of ministry for The Hallows as well. We need to do the deep and difficult work of being remade. So, please join us in a season of emptying ourselves of the things of this life and being filled up with the great things of the world to come.
This Lent, let’s seek God’s guidance. Let’s fast and pray for the future of our church together. Lastly, let’s enter into the life of Jesus as we prepare to celebrate the wondrous news of Easter.
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Jacob Hess serves as The Hallows Church Minister of Music and Media. In addition to music, he enjoys reading, writing and spending time with his bride, Alexa.