Pastor Jerry Donovan, First Methodist Church
We are told in the book of Matthew 4:1-11 that after Jesus was baptized he was sent into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He fasted and prayed for 40 days. While there he was tempted by Satan, but he was able to resist his temptations because he found purpose and power. Then he was ready to begin his ministry.
Maybe Jesus needed some time with God to sort through the major changes happening in his life. Maybe Jesus needed to get away from his family, friends and his daily routine in order to see God and himself. He probably realized that he needed intentional time with God as he searched for direction and answers just like you and me. Just like Jesus, we need to make some serious time to pray and listen for God.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday the day after Mardi Gras. We accept our own mortality and repent of our sins in public worship. Many of us commit to change our lives over the next forty days to become more like Christ.
Are you searching for something more to life? Tired of running in circles, in a life without direction, purpose or passion? It’s not hard to lose focus because of our time needed for classes, relationships, family, and work. Our lives are overflowing with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. We try to fill that empty feeling we have with mindless TV, gossip, stimulants, alcohol, too many activities or other irrelevant stuff. We run away from life and from God.
Lent is a time to “repent” to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day period to begin controlling your own life and allowing God to change your heart.
Lent 101 by Penny Ford was the source of much of this information, and in it she listed these things to try for lent: 9. Try an electronic fast by giving up TV, Facebook, texting, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day every week, and use the time to read & pray; 8. Each day of Lent, pray for another person; 7. Go deeper into the Bible; take an online course on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus; 6. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it (maybe even yourself); 5. Give up soft drinks, fast food, tea or coffee, give the money you save to help folks in a different part of the world who are in crisis; 4. Create a daily quiet time, spend 10 minutes a day in silence and prayer; 3. Cultivate a life of gratitude, write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along the way; 2. Volunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home, or prison ministry, 1. Pray for others you see as you walk to and from classes or drive to and from work
Christians from many different traditions celebrate Lent. How will you use the time to grow closer to God?