Lent is the season of the Christian Year that includes the six weeks from Ash Wednesday until the eve of Easter. Traditionally, it represents the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry. As celebrated by Christians, it has become a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is a time for reflection on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, his life, his death, burial, and resurrection. It often includes prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial.
Because I come from a non-liturgical faith tradition, my personal experience of the practices of Lent is relatively new. A few people who worship with me now will refer to what they are “giving up” for Lent. Often it is a luxury, like chocolate, or perhaps sweets in general. It may be a habit they would like to give up. However, when Lent ends, they appear to go right back to the luxury, or the bad habit, without seeming to have any deep or life changing Lenten experience.
As I have studied the meaning of Lent, I see an opportunity for a much deeper experience. Rather than focusing on a specific luxury or habit, I believe that Lent is an opportunity to make real and lasting changes through a study of scripture and reflection on the life values of Jesus. It is an opportunity to be renewed and to learn more about how to live a Christ-like life.
The devotionals in this Lenten guide will focus on the areas of social justice that the North Carolina Council of Churches works to address. The Council has been a leader in calling people of faith to justice, compassion and peace. Each devotion will give you new insight, new facts and information, and a way to reflect on how God calls us to care for the vulnerable and excluded, to care for creation, to care about our health and the health of others, and to open our lives to peace and compassion. In other words, ways that we are called to a more Christ-like life.
You are invited to take a deeper, perhaps even life-altering Lenten journey with this guide. Contemplate social justice issues in the light of scripture. Expand your knowledge but most of all, expand your heart. Apply new knowledge, biblical truths, and gospel values to your own life. As Easter arrives, we should be prepared with new knowledge about issues, a deeper understanding of biblical truths and gospel values that will make our hearts ready for lasting changes in our lives.
-Rose Gurkin, Program Associate