Preparing for Easter

Ever noticed that Easter seems to sneak up on us? While Christmas preparations begin months in advance, culture doesn’t approach Easter similarly. And yet Easter, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection, is the foundation of our faith. The Global Church (Christ followers of many denominations and traditions around the world) has a centuries-old practice known as Lent to help us anticipate Easter by focusing the attention of our hearts and minds.

As a community of people from diverse backgrounds, some of us already have annual Lent practices, while others may have a negative impression of the season because they associate it with legalistic religious rules. Still, others have never even heard of it at all. Whatever your background or experience, we would like to invite you to consider joining the Church around the world in preparing for Easter this year.

Simply put, Lent is the six weeks before Easter, set apart to draw closer to Jesus. It is six weeks of doing life differently - on purpose, for a purpose. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year, Wednesday, February 22). This day starts the season with the tradition of reflecting on our mortality and our need for Christ. In many Ash Wednesday church services, ministers and pastors will mark the foreheads of followers with ashes, using the traditional words, “Remember we are dust, and to dust, we will return.” Although those words may seem somber and dark, the intention of Lent is not to send us into a deep brooding about the suffering of Christ and our own humanity, but rather it is an invitation to remember our need for God and a call to return to God wholeheartedly, preparing us to fully embrace the significance of the Holy Week traditions (the week before Easter), culminating in our Easter celebrations.

What Do We Do Differently?

This year, you might consider participating in an Ash Wednesday service in preparation for Easter. Our friends at New Hope Church in Portland have invited us to join them (details below). Or you might look for a service to attend in your own neighborhood.

Additionally, three primary spiritual practices are traditionally the focus during the six weeks of Lent:

  • Prayer (or meditation)
  • Fasting (giving up something as a reminder of our desire for God)
  • Almsgiving (an old, fancy word for “giving”).

Although these practices may be part of your everyday life, during Lent, we are encouraged to approach them with additional focus, disrupting our daily lives in specific ways to help us recenter our focus and attention on Jesus.

One final consideration— typically, we want to engage in these practices quietly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean secretly. It can be wonderfully encouraging to share our experiences with one another, especially in specific circles of people. However, Jesus reminds us that when we pray, fast, and give, it is meant to be an act of personal devotion rather than a display to others that we are “doing it right.” He simply wants us to remember to check our motives. But we are not meant to live our life of faith alone. So we share our practices as a means of encouragement or support or even to ask others for help when we’re struggling or feeling defeated.

Below you will find questions to serve as prompts and ideas for how you might incorporate prayer, fasting, and almsgiving into your Lent experience, as well as some simple resources to support you. We hope they will be helpful as you consider how you would like to live differently for the six weeks of Lent. Whatever you choose, may God’s Spirit direct you, and may God’s presence and peace be with you as we prepare for Easter.



Turn Your Attention

How might I speak to and listen to God in a new way during this season?

  • Begin a practice of intentional daily prayer. Set the alarm on your phone to remind you, and just start talking to God. It doesn't need to be fancy. In fact, the less fancy, the more likely your prayer will be sincere and from the heart (that’s God’s favorite kind).

  • Pray Scripture. Choose a particular passage from the Bible, maybe a Psalm, something that jumped out to you during a Sunday message, or choose a book of the Bible to start reading and use that passage as a prompt for your prayers (see the resources below for help).

  • Don’t know where to begin? Choose one of the Beatitudes from A Different Kind Of Happy sermon series as a focus. Use this digital guide to help you learn more about that topic and to find prayer prompts.

  • Whatever prayer practice you choose, create time for listening for God’s voice in the conversation. Consider keeping a journal to note the times you recognize His Spirit speaking to you throughout the day.



Give Something Up

What might I give up during this season to remind me of my need for Jesus?

  • Helpful questions: Where am I turning for comfort instead of seeking God? What is distracting me from my spiritual life? What unnecessary activity or pursuit is consuming my time?
  • Examples of what you might give up: social media, TV or streaming services, video/computer/phone games, coffee, alcohol, eating out or buying Starbucks/Dutch Bros, meat or a particular food, a specific meal each day, a behavior (making negative comments, overworking, binge watching, shopping, sleeping in, etc.)
  • What options would you add to the list above? Make your own list. Then, pray and ask God to direct your decision to fast.

Note: If you choose to fast during Lent, please be mindful of your physical and mental health. Remember, the point is not to complete a fast but to grow closer to Jesus.



Give To Others

What can I give during this season to meet the needs of another?

  • Are you fasting from something associated with an expense? Consider using what you would have spent on that item or activity to give to one of our ministry partners or towards our church’s benevolence giving.
  • Deliver meals to neighbors or anyone in your community who could use encouragement. Or consider inviting a guest over each week to share a meal with you and your family.
  • Pay special attention to the needs around you. Ask God to make you especially aware. When you hear of a need, quietly take care of it. Don’t be afraid to invite someone to join you (like your small group or family members) if it is beyond your means to manage alone.
  • If there are organizations you already support financially, consider giving extra during Lent. Or add volunteering your time in some way to your financial giving.


New Hope's Ash Wednesday service has been cancelled due to inclement weather