“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 4:1-2
Jesus has just been baptized by his cousin in the Jordan River, and out of nowhere, he was picked up by angels, and plopped in the middle of the desert, where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. Seriously? I can hardly go 4 hours without thinking I need something to eat! I can’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine fasting for 40 days and nights.
This 40 days and 40 nights is a theme in the Bible. After Noah built the ark and the family gathered 2 of every species onto the floating life raft, the Bible says God made it rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before getting to the Promised Land. Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him. Even Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb to get away from Jezebel. And now, Jesus spends 40 days fasting and praying.
In our tradition, we have set aside the 40 days and nights prior to Easter to observe Lent. This is a time that offers us an opportunity to take a good look at ourselves, to come to grips with the fact that, while we are sinners and need saving, our Good News is that we can repent, that is, to change and go in another direction, preferably the direction of God. Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and our minds a little deeper so that we might understand God a little deeper.
Lent gives us time to prepare our minds and hearts for remembering the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. From the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday (this year it is March 3) until Lent ends on Easter Sunday (April 17). In some traditions, Lent is a time of fasting or giving something up, known as abstinence. In our tradition, we aren’t strict about giving something up, but many do. In recent years, many progressive churches have encouraged their flocks to study and practice a new spiritual discipline. There are several spiritual disciplines: Solitude, Silence, Prayer, Journaling, Meditation, Fasting, Chastity, Confession, Fellowship, Simplicity, Service, to name a few.
This year, we will focus on praying and studying God’s Word both in worship and during our Wednesday evening Soup and Conversations. We hope you will join us as we dig deeper into God’s Word, and open our hearts and minds to figuring out how that works in our lives, and how God uses us to work in God’s world. Hope to see you all, both Wednesday evenings, as well as Sunday mornings!
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi