about lent

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. 
The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. 
This story begins and ends in joy.” 
-J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lenten season, originally meaning “springtime" or "to make longer"—reminds us that there is an end to the death winter proclaims and that the new birth seen throughout creation comes when spring arrives.  As Martin Luther wrote, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”  

Lent is filled with significance for the Church as we enter into a time of reflection upon the death and resurrection of Christ.  Many have missed the focus of this season by rooting it in fasting and repentance from sin.  While these two disciplines are necessary to our walk with Christ, they cannot be the ‘thing’ the season is about.  Lent is about the death and resurrection of our King - dying in our place and bringing about a redeemed creation, of which we are a part.  It is not a season focused around our ability to say 'no' to a love, or habit we have, or address random places in our life where we’ve fallen short of perfection.  

Spending time rooted in the death of Christ while knowing that his resurrection lies just beyond the horizon shapes how we approach this season.  Celebrating death may not come naturally to us, but in this season of Lent, we engage with the devastating realities that death brings in and around us, while allowing the excitement to build as we get ready to celebrate the our risen and ever-reigning King Jesus.  Engaging with the season of lent requires us to spend time dealing with the heaviness of sin while anticipating the most joyful celebration.  The joyfulness that Psalmists sing about or that Jesus teaches on is not a happiness because things go our way, rather it is an emotion rooted in being reminded of something greater.  C.S. Lewis tells us that “All joy reminds.  It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still 'about to be’.”  Celebrating Lent will increase our desire to pursue Christ and the joy that we find when we abide in Him because we are reminded of what He did long ago and what he will do in us and the world, today, and for the rest of eternity.   As we trudge through sin, we must remind ourselves that he rose from the dead, which will create in us such a joy because He “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7).  Abiding in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ will fill us with eternal joy (Jn. 15:11). 

While death is necessary, it is not the end.  Just beyond the cross is a risen King.  During this season, there will be moments we are made aware of the darkness that death brings, but just as the spring brings with it an increase in daylight, the sight of our resurrected King on the other side of the cross will bring forth an anticipation for the celebration that is to come when we see our risen Redeemer.

In addition to our Sunday mornings when we gather for worship, we’d encourage you to set aside time each week to read through some of these scripture references, sing and pray through this guide.  If possible, please include your family or room-mates or coffee-mates with you!

Week of March 25th

Weekly Scripture reading: Read through Luke 22-23
Words from the Cross to reflect upon: "'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46
Sing: Jesus Paid it All
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”:Resurrection
O God of my Exodus, Great was the joy of Israel’s sons, when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far great the joy when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor, conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death, tramples the powers of darkness down, and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety, apprehended for payment of my debt, comes forth from the prison house of the grave free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted, that the claims of justice are satisfied, that the devil’s scepter is shivered, that his wrongful throne is leveled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in him I rose, in his life I live, in his victory I triumph, in his ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer, thou who was lifted up upon a cross art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns, art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than thine, no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high, no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive thine enemies behind thee.
What more could be done than thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, thy resurrection my peace,
thy ascension my hope, thy prayers my comfort. Amen.

Week of March 18th

Weekly Scripture reading: Read through Matthew 26-27
Words from the Cross to reflect upon:  “He said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30
Sing: Before the Throne of God
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”: Calvary’s Anthem
Heavenly Father,
Thou hast led me singing to the cross where I fling down all my burdens and see them vanish,
where my mountains of guilt are levelled to a plain, where my sins disappear,
though they are the greatest that exist, and are more in number than the grains of fine sand;
For there is power in the blood of Calvary
to destroy sins more than can be counted
even by one from the choir of heaven.
Thou hast given me a hill-side spring that washes clear and white, and I go as a sinner to its waters, bathing without hindrance in its crystal streams.
At the cross there is free forgiveness for poor and meek ones, and ample blessings that last for ever;
The blood of the Lamb is like a great river of infinite grace with never any diminishing of its fullness as thirsty ones without number drink of it.
O Lord, for ever will thy free forgiveness live that was gained on the mount of blood;
In the midst of a world of pain it is a subject for praise in every place a song on earth,
an anthem in heaven, its love and virtue knowing no end;
I have a longing for the world above where multitudes sing the great song,
for my soul was never created to love the dust of earth.
Though here my spiritual state is frail and poor, I shall go on singing Calvary's anthem.
May I always know that a clean heart full of goodness is more beautiful than the lily,
that only a clean heart can sing by night & by day, that such a heart is mine when I abide at Calvary. Amen.

Week of March 11th

Weekly Scripture reading: Read through John 18-19
Words from the Cross to reflect upon: “I thirst.” John 19:28 & Ps. 69
Sing: Christ, Or Else I Die
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”: Longings After God
My Dear Lord,  I can only tell You what You already know I long for nothing but You,
Nothing but holiness,
Nothing but union with your will.
You have given me these desires,
And You alone can give me the thing desired.
My soul longs for communion with You,
For the death of my indwelling corruption,
Especially my spiritual pride.
How precious it is
To have a tender sense and clear understanding
Of the mystery of godliness,
Of true holiness!
What a blessedness to be like You
As much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator!
Lord, give me more of Your likeness;
Enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness;
Engage me to live more for You.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences,
And when I feel at ease after sweet moments in Your presence,
Teach me that it is far too little I know and do.
Blessed Lord,
Let me climb up near to You,
And love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with You,
And long for deliverance from the body of sin,
For my heart is wandering and lifeless,
And my soul mourns to think
It should ever lose sight of its beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love,
And keep me ever desiring You,
Always humble and sold out to Your will,
That I might be more fixed on You,
That I may be more prepared for serving and suffering. Amen.

Week of March 4th

Weekly Scripture reading: Read through Luke 19-21
Words from the Cross to reflect upon: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46 & Ps. 22
Sing: Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”: The Broken Heart
O Lord, No day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in thy sight.
Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart;
Praise has been often praise sound;
My best services are filthy rags.
Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in thy appeasing wounds.
Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits sour above them;
Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell,
thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne.
All things in me call for my rejection,
All things in thee plead for my acceptance.
I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to thy throne of boundless grace.
Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me:
that by thy stripes I am healed,
that thou wast bruised for my iniquities,
that thou hast been made sin for me
that I might be righteous in thee,
that my grievous sins, my manifold sins,
are all forgiven, buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood.
I am guilty, but pardoned, lost, but saved,
wandering, but found, sinning, but cleansed.
Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,
Keep me always clinging to thy cross,
Flood me every moment with descending grace,
Open to me the springs of divine knowledge,
sparkling like crystal, flowing clear and unsullied through my wilderness of life. Amen.

Week of February 25th

Weekly Scripture reading: Read through John 12-17
Words from the Cross to reflect upon: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
Sing: Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”: Divine Mercies
Thou Eternal God, Thine is surpassing greatness, unspeakable goodness, super-abundant grace;
I can as soon count the sands of ocean’s ‘lip’ as number thy favours towards me;
I know but a part, but that part exceeds all praise.
I thank thee for personal mercies, a measure of health, preservation of body, comforts of house and home, sufficiency of food and clothing, continuance of mental powers, my family, their mutual help and support, the delights of domestic harmony and peace, the seats now filled that might have been vacant, my country, church, Bible, faith.
But, O, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness, the days that add to my guilt, the scenes that witness my offending tongue;
All things in heaven, earth, around, within, without, condemn me-the sun which sees my misdeeds, the darkness which is light to thee, the cruel accuser who justly charges me, the good angels who have been provoked to leave me, thy countenance which scans my secret sins, thy righteous law, thy holy Word, my sin-soiled conscience, my private and public life, my neighbours, myself - all write dark things against me.
I deny them not, frame no excuse, but confess, ‘Father, I have sinned’; 
Yet still I live, and fly repenting to thy outstretched arms; thou wilt not cast me off, for Jesus brings me near, thou wilt not condemn me, for he died in my stead, thou wilt not mark my mountains of sin, for he levelled all, and his beauty covers my deformities.
O my God, I bid farewell to sin by clinging to his cross, hiding in his wounds, and sheltering in his side.

Week of February 18th

Weekly Scripture reading
: Read through Matthew 21-25
Words from the Cross to reflect upon: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
SingNothing but the Blood
Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”: Yet I Sin
Eternal Father, Thou art good beyond all thought, 
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind; 
My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel, and my ways reluctant to amend.  
I bring my soul to thee; break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.  
Unmask to me sin’s deformity, that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.  
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee; as a rebel I have misused my strength, and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.  
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly.  Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard, that evil paths are wretched paths, that to depart from thee is to lose all good.  
I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law, the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns, the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls, yet I daily violate and condemn its precepts.
Thy loving Spirit strives within me, brings me Scripture warnings, speaks in startling providences, allures by secret whispers, yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt, impiously resent, grieve, and provoke him to abandon me.  
All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.  
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance; 
Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears, yet ever trusts and loves, which is ever powerful, and ever confident; Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross.