Day 1

Lenten Devotional - 1

Author: Adam Nelson
March 11, 2022

Lenten season, and possibly the church calendar as a whole, is encountered differently for each of us. Perhaps you grew up with lectionary sermons and readings in 3-year patterns, curated around the calendar. Perhaps you observed no meat on Fridays or abstained from sugar or TV or something else that you viewed as an unhealthy habit. Perhaps you dreaded this season or looked forward to it. Having grown up at SPC, Lent wasn’t emphasized much. I remember having dinner with a friend in middle school ordering pizza. I asked for pepperoni and they informed me they couldn’t eat pepperoni because it was a Friday in Lent. It seemed strange to me that God would want us to focus on such things. Even still I think if we look at our inherited traditions and our chosen ones as purely our actions towards God we miss out on the gift of this season and the rhythms of the church calendar.

God seems to want to reorganize our loves and our desires. And God seems to do this in part by drawing God’s people into new patterns and ways of living. Many of us recognize the time-based rhythm of the Sabbath and see it anchored in Genesis 2 where God rested. But God defined the Israelites’ years as well as generations. There were festivals throughout the year meant to aid in the remembrance of God and God’s work. Then every 7 years would be a Sabbath year where the land could rest, and every 49 years would be a year of Jubilee where property was restored and debt was forgiven. Generationally, the people of God surrendered what they were “owed” and recognized it was all God’s anyway. As we often enter into the narrative of Holy Week at some point in Lent we can see that Jesus was following and observing these patterns of worship too! God chose to mark time, mark seasons, and mark patterns of life where we learn to surrender our hopes and expectations to God’s way of living, seeing, and loving.

This brings us back to Lent. I’ve grown to realize the gift of seasons like Advent, Lent, Christmastide, Eastertide, and so on. They still aren’t a firm part of my church tradition but they can help bend and shape our worldview if we let them. We choose to lean into these different seasons, not out of obligation or legalism, but because we long to be a kind of people that looks like Christ in this world. So our reorienting what is familiar, what our go-to comforts and coping mechanisms are has less to do with the sacrifice we are making and more to do with surrendering to God’s timing, God’s way of seeing things. I think as we grow more comfortable in doing so we begin to see more of that day-to-day: what God is shaping in us and what God is inviting us into. To this end, Lent is as much about “taking up” new habits as it is about “laying down” ones that draw us away or outright replace our God.
Our Response

  •  Take some time to center yourself in God’s presence. A breath prayer if it is helpful to quiet your heart and can be - Inhale: “God teach me” Exhale: “to order my ways”
  • Read Leviticus 25 - What stands out to you? What about God’s pattern is so different? What might that look like in your life?
  • Reflect on your past week or month. Notice without judgment what you have found consuming your time and energy that isn’t God. Where has your heart been drawn to? Write down a few patterns you notice.
  • Reflect on where you have seen God working, and what you notice about yourself in those moments. What helps you become more aware of God’s presence in your life and this world?
  • Use these short lists to pray, to offer to God the things that need to be reoriented or left behind, and invite God to help solidify and grow the practices that help us notice God at work in this season. 

God, in a world dominated by time and schedules and efficiency we surrender to Your time. We can’t do it alone and we can’t do it overnight, so steadily show us your way. Guide us along the right paths that You have called us to. Help us to be wise, to notice when we are drawn into worshipping less than Yourself. Be our guide in this Lenten season, our teacher and companion. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen


South Park Church
1330 S. Courtland Avenue | Park Ridge, IL 60068 | 847.825.5507