A friend of mine is training to run a marathon. He plans to run 26.2 miles, without stopping, on purpose! In order to run the marathon, he has entered into a season of intense training and preparation.
In some ways, Lent has always been a season of training and preparation. In the early Church, Lent developed as a time of intensive teaching and instruction as adult converts to the Christian faith prepared for baptism, which was usually administered on Easter Sunday. (The term Lent is from the word “to lengthen,” as in the northern hemisphere the days get longer in the spring.)
As the years went by, Lent developed into a period of 40 days. In the Bible, the number 40 is often a signal of a season of preparation. For example, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the Land of Promise. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit for a season of 40 days before he began his public ministry.
At its core, Lent is a season of preparation and intense training. My friend who is training for his marathon has changed some things about his lifestyle. He has changed his diet, refraining from foods that might slow him down. He is waking up a little earlier than normal in order that he might have time to train. He is willingly making sacrifices now in order that he might more joyfully run the race that has been marked out for him.
It’s my hope that you might find Lent to be a time of preparation and intense training leading us into the marathon of Holy Week and Easter. To help you with your journey, the session has provided Lenten devotional books free of charge. The books are entitled, “Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land,” and you may download a copy here or pick up a print copy at the Camp Bowie desk.
If you choose to “give something up,” may you do so as one who is training for greater glory. May all of us run with faith and perseverance the race that has been marked out for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Pioneer and Perfector of our Faith.
May God bless you and keep you,