Dear FBC Church family,
This is the second year that we are observing Lent as a church. “Lent” is a foreign concept to many of us and many have never observed it. Others have for years. We all have different journeys that have brought us to be in community here in Corvallis.
The Background of Lent
Lent is a very ancient Christian practice. Eusebius’ History of the Church records that early followers of Jesus prepared for Easter through a season of fasting and prayer as early as Irenaeus’ day, in the second century. The word “Lent” is simply the Latin word for “spring” because it makes up the first month and beginning of the Spring season. Although many different traditions and regions celebrated differently, Lent was defined as the 40 days leading up to Holy Week, that week begins on Palm Sunday and climaxes after Good Friday on Easter or Resurrection Sunday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and gets its name from the practice of receiving ashes on the forehead as a traditional Old Testament sign of mourning.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and prayer because our sin and need of our Savior’s sacrifice and resurrection. The 40 day length is inspired by Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before His baptism and earthly ministry. Forty has many other biblical connections of preparation, such as Moses time on Mount Sinai and the years that Israel wandered in the wilderness. Some Christians would fast from meat during the whole 40 days or limit eating to one meal a day. Still others would fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. But the entire period is meant to increase contemplation of Christ, repentance, reading the Scriptures, praying, and preparing ourselves for the celebration of His completed work.
About 20 years ago, there was a movement in evangelicalism to look back into our Christian roots for traditions and practices that would enrich our faith and link us to the sacred pathways of our forefathers. It was in these days that we saw a resurgence of Lent observance along with other practices in evangelical circles. Many have been enriched by them. Our hope is that you would be as well. May the Lord use this season to open new areas of your heart to His redemption and renovation.
The Practice of Lenten Preparation
Consider how you want to wade into the waters this year.
By Fasting. Although fasting purely means to go without food, the way you go about it can be tailored to your ability and focus. Fasting reflects that we want and need God more than food. It represents mourning for sin or for evil in the world. It eliminates distraction and creates space to focus on feeding our spirits as we deny our body. Therefore, you can choose to go without a certain item of food or unnecessary treat. Some have fasted from a use of particular technologies, entertainments or past times and redirect the time to worship and spiritual discipline. Traditionally, people “give something up for lent”. You can go any one of these directions individually. If you would like to join our FBC family 40 Day Fast, sign up for a day as we share the load of fasting for the whole season of Lent.
By Praying. You see, prayer without fasting in the Bible, but seldom, if ever, do we see fasting without prayer. The combination of the two, we are told by Jesus, has special effectiveness for worship (Luke 2:37), healing (Mark 9:29), and seeking God’s will (Acts 14:23) that only He truly understands. It is what Esther meant when she asked her people to “fast on her behalf” (Esther 4:16). So take up some purposes to your prayer in this season: for personal humility or spiritual beatitudes, for the cause of God’s mission in the world, or to listen and seek God’s wisdom. At FBC, we have chosen to follow the prayer guide called Seek God for the City. You can get the book or app and follow it with us. There are other options for prayer walks, meetings, and worship times. In fact, we encourage you to attend an Ash Wednesday service at Suburban Christian Church (6:30pm on 3/6, tonight!) and our city wide worship celebration City Praise on Palm Sunday (6:00pm on 4/14 at Life Community Church). Many times of prayer and worship are available here at FBC between these times.
Read and meditate.
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Let your faith grow through this season as you digest a steady diet of Scripture, teachings, and meditations. Along with the Sunday sermons, small group teachings, and personal reading plan you have, the SGFTC prayer guide will give you prayers right from God’s word to chew on and make your own.
We pray that God moves in our church and revives us through this season. That revival begins in the renovation of each individual soul. Let us give ourselves to this. If you have any questions or feedback, please connect with one of the pastors or elders. We are here for you.
For the elders and In Christ’s Name,
On behalf of the FBC Elders.