I grew up in a tradition that didn’t follow the religious liturgical calendar. In our young church plant we have several people who grew up in traditions that did follow this calendar. It is usually used as a means of trying to kick a habit or start a more positive one, or as a way to appease God for at least 40 days so that we can achieve some measure of favor or better luck in our life.
WHY then is PAXnorth making a big deal of these forty days of focus? Have we gone all ‘catholic or anglican’? Our intention is to use this rhythm of our calendar year to cause us to truly look to the incredible grace of God poured out to us at Easter. We believe that God sent Jesus on a mission to seek and save those who are lost, us and others. We both want to celebrate and be intentional about the Gospel mission in our neighbourhoods. So we are using this time to fast, pray, get to know and plan ‘events’ to reach those around us.
Here’s what that looks like for us:
What is LENT?
It is typically kicked off on “Ash Wednesday” which is 46 days before Easter in the western world (passover in the Eastern world). LENT is taken from the 40 days of Jesus’ fasting in the desert and subsequent temptation by Satan. This came before launching His public ministry to fulfill the mission of revealing the love and power of God to a world that would ultimately reject Him. Even in this God works out our ultimate redemption! Ash Wednesday is a means of signifying a desire to participate in the struggle of Christ (ashes are the symbol of mourning). Christ comes on a mission to our world as a man living in the midst of our desperation, fighting against the curse of sin, embracing the passion of the cross, returning to life in victory and opening the way of life with God for a hopeless world. This cross-centered mission is what we focus on during LENT.
Why LENT at PAXnorth?
We often talk about Jesus being more/different than religion, and that He did not come merely as an example for us to follow but to be the very Savior of our lives . We are encouraging you to enter into LENT this year because Jesus did come to your world, has entered into your brokenness and taken your desperate sin to the cross. He does offer the reality of a transformed life as you live out the hope of an Easter resurrection daily. The same mission He accomplished for us, He continues through us to our hopelessly seeking world.
How exactly is PAXnorth doing LENT?
FAST Commit to fasting for the 46 days of LENT (Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22 until Easter, April 8) Fast from something that you are in the habit of doing daily; i.e. coffee, twitter, facebook, music on your way to and from work, etc.)KNOW Download/get a “PAXnorth>> in the hood” form for your neighbourhood/work space/apartment/dorm. Prayerfully fill out this form thinking of those you feel you need to get to know.
PRAY Take the time to pray for your ‘neighbours’ every time you think of the item you are fasting from.
REACH Make the time during the months of FEBRUARY, MARCH and APRIL to host an event, open your home or grab coffee with those for whom you are praying. Use this opportunity as a place to build a friendship that will introduce Jesus in a low pressure, casual setting.
D-GROUP FOLLOW UP If you are part of a D- Group consider hosting an event where people can invite their friends, neighbours, or people from their community. Consider opening this up to the rest of PAX or just keeping it to your small group or a specific neighbourhood.
TELL EMAIL the event details to Nevin and Brad so we can continue to promote or to share the results of Getting our LENT on in the ‘Hood’.
Want some help thinking though how you approach your ‘neigbours’? Read these links to encourage you in the why and the how:
11 Ways to Love Your City
Talking to Your Neighbours about Jesus