Use Lent to Prepare Yourself and Your Family for Easter
“He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again” (Luke 24:6-7 NIV).
Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. Ever since I was little I have enjoyed Easter egg hunts and chocolate rabbits, Easter lilies at church, and a great dinner at home. However, there is so much more to Easter. One critical part of Easter is Lent. Lent is the period of 40 weekdays before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, and Sundays are not counted. Lent is often observed with an element of self-denial. I encourage all men to lead your family by intentionally observing Lent which will be a rewarding experience for all. Below are some steps to consider on your Lenten journey.
Reflect with your Family
If I don’t use Lent as a time of personal reflection, I run the risk of Easter becoming an excuse to take my suit to the dry cleaners and overdose on chocolate. By observing Lent at home, we can help ourselves and our families grow spiritually. Remember, our primary church is our home. I want myself and my family to understand that we need to prepare our hearts to experience the joy of the resurrection. This begins by examining our hearts for sin and gently explaining the hard reality that our sin is what separates us from Jesus. We are all sinners, and the only one to have walked the earth without sin was falsely accused of a crime (blasphemy). Lent is a time to ask the Holy Spirit to search us and help us clean sin out of our hearts and replace the void with His love and grace.
The observance of Lent can take many forms. There are several devotionals available to help families make Lent a meaningful time of growth and reflection. Speak to your pastor about appropriate devotionals for you and your family.
If your family is not in the habit of daily prayer and Scripture reading, Lent is a great time to start. Lent is also a great time to begin the habit of Christian service and reach out to others with our gifts of presence, prayers, and witness.
Understand True Sacrifice
Lent often involves sacrifice. Historically, the season of Lent commemorates Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the wilderness which succeeded his baptism by John the Baptist and proceeded the enemy’s efforts to tempt our Lord to serve him.
Many people choose to abstain from a favorite item or activity during Lent. The purpose of this is, in a very symbolic and in a very microscopic manner, allow us to identify with what Jesus sacrificed for us. When our children are deciding what to fast from, it is important to remind them that a true sacrifice must “cost” us something. This may be giving up video games or candy.
Read Scripture Together
Lent is a great time for the family to carve out time each evening to read Scripture. The Gospels are a great place to learn about the life of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for life on earth and beyond. John 14:2-3 captures this hope, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Christ separated Himself from previous prophets by His victory over death. The glory of the empty tomb is beautifully captured in Luke 24:5-6 by the words of the angels to the women when they went to His tomb the next day after the crucifixion. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised.” Christ’s death is not the source of our hope. His victory over death is the source of all hope. It is the source of life-everlasting and the forgiveness of sins. Use Lent wisely to prepare your hearts for the blessings of Easter.
Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for the ability to repent and receive forgiveness of our sins and for the life everlasting that comes as a free gift through the blood of Jesus. Amen.
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Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.