The Rhythm of Lent

Photo by Ahna Ziegler

Most of us know that today marks the church’s entrance into the season of Lent. It all begins each year with Ash Wednesday.

It’s a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) centered in the examination of our lives through lament, repentance, and fasting. Perhaps many of our churches don’t regularly engage in these biblical practice. But we know Christ himself did. In all, Lent culminates with the weekend of Good Friday, Silent Saturday, and then Resurrection Sunday (April 2-4 this year).

But many people may ask why participate in Lent? It seems so stuffy and religious, so outdated.

Think of it this way, perhaps. God has set up creation in such a way that it cycles through four seasons each year: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Some places may have only two distinguishable seasons, but generally we have been given these four seasons as gifts. I personally love Fall – the significant changes that take place across nature; the leaves as they turn yellow, orange and red; the cooler weather (but not too cold). It all draws me in. Deeply draws me in.

Seasons.

Cycles.

Rhythms.

This is what we have in creation. And just as creation rhythmically cycles through the seasons, so the church has been given a rhythmic journey to walk through year after year after year. We’ve been doing this now for centuries upon centuries, well before we were a twinkle in our parents’ eyes. The ancient church may speak of “liturgy,” which can sound like an odd and archaic word for today. But liturgy is centrally about the practices and rhythms given to help shape the church in Christlikeness.

The Christian annual rhythm (or calendar) is a tangible way to engage with the bigger story of Christ. It provides a kind of sensory opportunity for seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling the grand story. Remember, the ancients didn’t have access to personal copies of the Bible and many were illiterate. So the church found a way to implement creative, even artistic, storytelling through the seasons.

I encourage you to watch the short video below (just 3:43 in length). It helps better explain the broader context of the church’s storied rhythm.

Blessings in this Lent season as we seek him.

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