With the pace and chaos of life, it is easy for even the most important things to sneak up on us. Maybe you’ve experienced this with an anniversary, birthday, holiday or big appointment. You knew it was coming, but you still weren’t ready for it. The problem is that these moments might lose significance without anticipation and preparation.
No events are more central to our faith than those remembered on Easter weekend. Good Friday looks back to the cross, where Jesus died for our forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. And Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection, when Jesus displayed his victorious power over sin and death and gave us hope of life beyond the grave. As much as I believe in these events and as important as they are to me, Easter comes and goes quickly and I find myself unprepared to embrace and enjoy their significance.
In years past, this has left me longing for a way to be more mindful and prepared leading into Easter. What I have been longing for is what many Christians in other faith traditions have found in the season of Lent—a period of 40 days of preparation that culminates on Easter. Lent provides a period of mindfulness and preparation through the practice of the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer and fasting. The purpose is to train ourselves to think often of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, making it more and more a part of who we are. As a result, the celebration of these events on Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be all the more meaningful and magnificent.
For the first time, BridgePointe will be observing Lent together, starting on Wednesday, February 14th and we encourage you to join us on this 40 day runway. Here is a brief description of the spiritual disciplines and how we will participate in them together.
A consistent rhythm of daily Bible reading will strengthen our faith and shape our lives. Coinciding with the teaching series we are in, you are invited to read and study the life of Jesus as recorded by Jesus’s close friend, John. Join us by using the First 15 guide, “40 Days in the Gospel of John.”
Because prayer is a conversation with the God who loves you, it is powerful and has a way of changing us. Throughout Lent, choose a time and place to talk to God each day. It could be on your drive to work, in the early morning when your house is quiet, or right after you finish your reading from “40 Days in the Gospel of John.” If you’d like to learn more about how to prayer, check our most recent teaching series on prayer, Our Father.
We don’t like depriving ourselves of anything, especially what we need or enjoy. Fasting is going without something for a given period of time. When you do this, you will think often of what you are missing, at which time you redirect your attention to God, who wants to be your greatest need and desire. Here are a couple ways you can join us in fasting during Lent:
Give up something you enjoy—social media, chocolate or desserts, Netflix, etc.— for the season of Lent. When you feel a craving for this, turn your attention to Jesus and thank Him for what He means to you. You might also use the time you would have spent for Bible reading and prayer.
Participate in a church-wide fast every Wednesday during Lent by going some or all of the day without eating—skip a single meal or do a 24-hour fast (Tuesday dinner until Wednesday dinner). Let your hunger turn your attention to Jesus and thank Him for what He means to you. Replace eating with prayer focusing on a particular intention—a sin battle, a big decision, a person who needs Jesus, etc. Each Wednesday of Lent, we will post a church-wide prayer focus for those fasting with us.
To kick off Lent, BridgePointe is hosting Day One at the BridgePointe Center from 6:30-8:30am and 11am-1pm on Wednesday. This will be a contemplative environment with self-guided stations that move you through Bible reading, prayer, fasting, and communion. Staff will also be present to pray with you, if desired.
I pray that this season of Lent will make you more mindful of Jesus and more prepared to celebrate together what His death and resurrection mean for us.
Leadership & Teaching Pastor