If observing Lent is new to you, let me just say that it’s way more than giving up something. There is much to receive as well.
When I was growing up in south Georgia, my Episcopalian friends Mercer and Lisa always proudly announced this time of year that they were “giving up chocolate for Lent!” I never really knew what that meant. All I knew is that they didn’t seem any holier after doing this, so I kept eating chocolate…
Now, I not only know what “Lent” means, I embrace this season – the 40 days prior to our celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is one of the holiest and most significant observances in the life of a believer and definitely deserves more than just a one-day acknowledgement.
“Lent” derives its name from an old Saxon word lencton which literally meant length. During these 6 weeks while we are repenting and reflecting on what Christ did for us, the days are lengthening and we are moving from winter to spring – literally into New Life.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries Christians began the practice of a 40-day preparation period which many still embrace today. Lent is a time when our souls seek God in a fresh way. And yes, fasting is one way to do that. Some people fast from a certain kind of food, others from tempting time-consuming activities such as television or social media. The idea is to practice denial of something so that we can focus more on what Christ has done for us.
For many followers of Christ, Lent has not been a regular observance because it’s what those “other churches” do. But I assure you, there are practices we can all embrace during this time which will draw us closer to Jesus.
How will You observe Lent this year?
- Daily soul nurture through silence, prayer and a biblical devotional?
- Reflection and repentance for sin in choosing another path?
- Reaching out with love and service to those who are hurting and need hope?
- Worshiping with the body of Christ – Holy Communion weekly?
- Living in gratitude and sharing the Hope of Easter to all around you?
One thing we can all do during these 40 days is to set aside time each day with God – reflection, prayer and Bible reading. While there are many great resources out there, may I humbly suggest my own book, which many of you already own, “Dwelling Places” (order here) The 40-day section for Lent is called “RENEW” and I have listed each day’s reading below. (Note: Sundays are not traditionally included in the 40 days, except for Easter.)
2021 Lenten Devotions – One Word a Day
- Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17 Day 1 “Return” (page 125 in Dwelling Places)
- Thursday, Feb. 18 Day 2 “Renewed”
- Friday, Feb. 19 Day 3 “Pray”
- Saturday, Feb. 20 Day 4 “Called”
- Monday, Feb. 22 Day 5 “Winter”
- Tuesday, Feb. 23 Day 6 “Sees”
- Wednesday, Feb. 24 Day 7 “Forgiveness”
- Thursday, Feb. 25 Day 8 “Hold”
- Friday, Feb. 26 Day 9 “Temptation”
- Saturday, Feb. 27 Day 10 “Wounds”
- Monday, Mar. 1 Day 11 “Repentance”
- Tuesday, Mar. 2 Day 12 “Restores”
- Wednesday, Mar. 3 Day 13 “Guide”
- Thursday, Mar. 4 Day 14 “Wrestled”
- Friday, Mar. 5 Day 15 “Godless Chatter”
- Saturday, Mar. 6 Day 16 “Betray”
- Monday, Mar. 8 Day 17 “Engraved”
- Tuesday, Mar. 9 Day 18 “Humility”
- Wednesday, Mar. 10 Day 19 “Poured Out”
- Thursday, Mar. 11 Day 20 “Fear”
- Friday, Mar. 12 Day 21 “Flame”
- Saturday, Mar. 13 Day 22 “Brokenhearted”
- Monday, Mar. 15 Day 23 “Freedom”
- Tuesday, Mar. 16 Day 24 “Near”
- Wednesday, Mar. 17 Day 25 “Heart”
- Thursday, Mar. 18 Day 26 “Hear”
- Friday, Mar. 19 Day 27 “Sheep”
- Saturday, Mar. 20 Day 28 “Wisdom”
- Monday, Mar. 22 Day 29 “Name”
- Tuesday, Mar. 23 Day 30 “Suffering”
- Wednesday, Mar. 24 Day 31 “Unseen”
- Thursday, Mar. 25 Day 32 “Power”
- Fri. Mar. 26/Sat. Mar. 27 Day 33 “Defeated”
Holy Week 2021:
- Monday, Mar. 29 Day 34 “New”
- Tuesday, Mar. 30 Day 35 “Mercy”
- Wednesday, Mar. 31 Day 36 “Remember”
- Maundy Thursday, Apr. 1 Day 37 “With Me”
- Good Friday, April 2 Day 38 “Death”
- Holy Saturday, April 3 Day 39 “Wept”
- Easter Sunday, April 4 Day 40 “Resurrection”
PRAYER FOR ASH WEDNESDAY: “O, God, when we pause to look back at our lives on this Ash Wednesday, we realize that we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. We have neglected to do good when it was in our power to do so. We have ignored the cries of the motherless, the fatherless, the widow and the widower choosing instead to turn children and the elderly into the new poor.We have not dealt honorably with our enemies or our friends, and we have feigned a place in the company of the righteous. Forgive us, O God, for the times we have neglected to provide our children and our world an authentic example of Christianity. As we begin the journey of these 40 days, Wash us, O God and we shall be clean. Cleanse us, O Lord, and we shall be made whole. Amen.”
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2021 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
Check out my companion devotional book “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most” Order Today!
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell, from “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life”