Archives: Who's Risen from the Dead, Anyway?
Following in His Footsteps - Introduction
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Introduction | Reflections | Activities
Lent was originally a season of fasting and penance for new converts preparing for baptism on Easter Eve. It is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This time corresponds to Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. Actually, Lent is a period of 46 days because Sundays, days when fasts could be broken, were not included in the 40 days.
When Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century, the foundation of the church was endangered by throngs of new untutored members. Identification with Jesus through the Lenten fasts and practices of self-renunciation was used to counter the paganism of these new converts. Lent became a time of recommitment, a time to ward off the threat of assimilation into the popular culture.
We need Lent today! Lent encourages us to look within ourselves to see how we have confused popular cultural values with Christian faith. Through a sustained focus on the life and ministry of Jesus, Lent can help us resist the pressures of this culture. Lent can remind us that we are called to continue his ministry: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21) Consequently, Lent prepares us for an Easter that is more than bunnies and eggs, an Easter when we celebrate God's great act in raising Jesus from the dead. These "Reflections" are designed to assist us in reclaiming the season of Lent as a time to renew our identification with Jesus. The texts take us through his ministry, from its beginnings in the desert to his death in Jerusalem, to the appearance of the risen Lord to his followers on Easter Sunday. Understanding Jesus' ministry is the key to understanding what it is that we celebrate on the third day. The "Reflections" are designed for use in individual meditation, study groups, and/or as background preparation for using the "Household Activities" in intergenerational settings.
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