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Lenten Awakening: Daily Meditations from Ash Wednesday to Easter

Product Code: 9781946709165

  • by Phil Needham
  • 209 pages.
  • Published 2020 Crest Books
The word "lent" comes from an old English word meaning "spring." In the Christian calendar, it refers to the forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays). Because the number of days in Lent is fixed, the Lenten Season always commences on the Wednesday before the first of the five Sundays before Easter Sunday. Rarely, then, does that Wednesday have the same calendar date.

Lent has traditionally—and helpfully—been observed as a time of spiritual meditation, self-discipline, penitence, prayer, and fasting. Today, some branches of the Christian church observe it with prescribed rituals and clearly defined spiritual disciplines. Other churches observe the season with less formality. In these meditations, we won't discuss issues of external observance. Rather, we shall take the opportunity to focus on Jesus. If there is anything all who claim to be Christians can agree on, it is that calling Jesus our Lord and Rabbi means that his life and his teaching are our guides for living. In other words, we look at and assess our own lives through the lens of how he actually lived and what he actually taught. Does it even need saying that such comparisons, when made honestly, reveal that we fall short?

What then do we do? Do we become spiritual defeatists who continually ask for forgiveness while dismissing God's ability to bring about needed change in our lives? No, we trust the Spirit's sanctifying power to make us more like Jesus. The Season of Lent is an opportunity to do exactly that over a period of forty-six days (including Sundays), leading right up to Easter.

Lent, in fact, has Easter in mind. It invites us to a journey of self-assessment and repentance that prepares us to receive the risen Christ and empowers us to live our lives and victorious Easter people. There is work to be done in all our lives. So, welcome to Lent! Welcome to the opportunity to spend time with Jesus, where your sin can meet his righteousness, your failures his forgiveness, your weakness his strength.

Our Lenten journey together will focus on Jesus. We will recall events from his life and ministry: his self-giving love, the singular thrust of his life toward obedience to God's will and purpose, the pain he endured for us, the radical teaching he expects his followers to live by. With greater depth and consequence, we will claim him as our Savior. We will turn the pages of the Gospels to rediscover this man from Nazareth. We will ask the age-old question: Who is he? We will find ourselves captivated by the age-old answer: "Tis the Lord, the King of Glory!" And we will respond: "At his feet we humbly fall, Crown him, crown him Lord of all!

The title of this book was given to me by my wife, Keitha, who has been both my proofreader and my consultant. After Awakening. She felt that what the meditations were seeking to do was to expose the life and teaching of Jesus in such a way as to awaken us out of our complacency and encourage us to see ourselves through his eyes.

As we take this journey together, we will see Jesus calling us to repentance, and we will own our need to confess our sin. We will allow ourselves to come under his revealing gaze and become more aware of what we could not see in ourselves and what we can still become. We will sit at the feet of this humble teacher and repent of our disabling arrogance. We will marvel at the many dimensions of Jesus' healing ministry, thank him for our own healings—some of them ongoing—and perhaps pray for a needed new healing. As we explore Jesus' ongoing mission of re-creation in our lives and in the world, we will hear him invite us to be part of it. We will see how God's mission to "bring all things together in Christ" (Ephesians 1:10) calls us, his disciples, through the last week of his earthly life, through crucifixion to Resurrection, we will claim again the saving and sanctifying power of Calvary love and Easter life.

I pray these reflections will draw you to Jesus, as I have been drawn. I hope they will awaken you to what he sees in you and in the world. And I hope they will help you find the Way on your journey as his disciple.
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