What is Lent?
Here’s a great, simple, explanation of Lent from the United Methodist Church:
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
This year, Lent begins on February 26 and runs through April 11.
Into the Wild
The season of Lent, a season of spiritual preparation leading up to Easter, is modeled on the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his ministry, when he faced temptation and was forced to rely upon God completely. But more than a millennium before Jesus wandered in the wilderness, the people of Israel spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness, learning to trust God to care for them.
Our Sermon Series for Lent is called “Into the Wild: Stepping into the Future without Fear.” We will be telling the story of Exodus and exploring what this story has to say about following Jesus, learning to love God, and growing in faith. As we journey through the story of the Exodus, we will learn new things about who Jesus is (and what he did for us in his life and on the cross) AND about what it means to face uncertainty/change while trusting God to take care of us. The Exodus is one of the most important stories in the Bible – it’s a foundation of our faith, and understanding it is essential for helping us understand Jesus. Journey with us into the Wild and discover the God who is waiting to meet us there!
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent, a time when Christians intentionally seek to grow closer to God as we prepare to tell the central story of our faith during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is a time to contemplate our mortality, confess the ways that we have fallen short of what God wants for us, and commit to seeking God. This year, Ash Wednesday is February 26. On that day, we will host a brief 35-45 minute worship service at the Haymarket Church Ministry Center (15000 Washington Street, Suite #206, Haymarket) at 7:00 PM. Childcare will be provided. Also, please note that our Ministry Center is up a steep flight of steps (there is no elevator). It is not accessible for people who cannot climb steps. We apologize for this.
Holy Week Schedule
Good Friday Service of Scripture, Song, and Darkness: Friday, April 10, 7:30 PM at the Haymarket Church Ministry Center (15000 Washington Street, Suite #206, Haymarket, VA 20169). Encounter the story of the journey of Jesus to the cross through Scripture readings, a sermon, music, silent reflection, and increasing darkness. We will enter into the dramatic story of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion and reflect on God’s amazing love. Childcare is available for this service.
Easter Sunrise Service: Sunday, April 12, exact time and location TBA.
Easter Sunday Worship: Sunday, April 12, at Haymarket Elementary School (15500 Learning Lane, Haymarket, VA 20169) at 10 AM.
Suggestions for Practicing a Holy Lent
Lent is a time to ask forgiveness for our sins, think about how we can live more faithfully, and try out new practices. It has traditionally been a time of fasting (“giving something up”) but is also a very appropriate time to “try something new.” So, below we have offered some suggestions of things you might try to help you experience Lent more fully. Don’t try all of them (that would be overwhelming) – just pick a few that work for you and your family, or come up with your own practice. This should be challenging (we need to be challenged if we want to grow) but not so challenging that you quit after a few days.
• Come to worship each Sunday (10:00 AM at Haymarket Elementary School, 15500 Learning Lane, Haymarket).
• Commit to reading two chapters from the Gospels each day. If you start with Matthew 1 today, you should finish John by Easter.
• Commit to the Haymarket Church Daily Bible Reading Plan. You can find it at HaymarketChurch.org/ReadingPlan – or, just email “sign me up for the weekly Bible Reading Email” to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll email you the readings for the week each Monday morning.
• Spend 10 minutes each morning and 10 minutes each evening in prayer. If you already do that, pray for 10 minutes at lunch too.
• Have a conversation with someone who represents a perspective that you don’t understand. Listen more than you talk.
• Give up going out to eat at restaurants. Figure how much money you save and give it away to an organization that fights hunger.
• Do something really nice for someone who annoys you.
• Write a letter to someone who lives far away. Tell that person about your life and about how much you care for them.
• Share a meal with someone who is lonely.
• Do something really nice for someone who frustrates you.
• Visit someone in prison, a nursing home, or the hospital weekly.
• Offer help to someone who is struggling to pay their bills.
• For most of history (and in much of the world today), meat was a rare delicacy/treat. Give up eating meat during Lent and learn about how most other people in the world have lived.
• Don’t use any paper towels or napkins – instead, use only cloth products. Then, take some time to wonder about how much trash we produce each day.
• Cook a meal for a family who is struggling and deliver it to them.
• Each week, take someone who is on a tight budget out for lunch. Have a good conversation and then pay for the meal (tip well!).
• Write one thank you note each day to someone who has made your life better. Take time to think about unnoticed people (servers at restaurants, workers at grocery stores, people who make the things we use) and try to include them too.
• Pray for your enemies each day. Include (among others) violent groups around the world, criminals in this country, people with whom you disagree politically, and folks in your family and daily life who you just don’t like very much.
• At the end of each day, spend a few minutes reflecting on what happened during the day. List the times when you felt close to God, the times when you felt far from God, the times when you were faithful to God, the times when you were tempted to sin, and the times when you actually sinned. Then confess your sin to God and thank God for sustaining you.
• Try tithing – giving 10% of your income to church – from now until Easter. See what happens.
• Make a list of 5 people in your life who might need to experience more of God’s light and love. Pray for them each day and ask God to show you how to share God’s love with them.
• Spend 10 minutes each day reading the news and praying over it – read the articles with an eye towards praying for the people involved, and ask God to show you how you can make a difference.
• Take a true Sabbath each week – no work emails, no working from home, simply resting and caring for yourself.
• Slow down. Take a walk and pay attention to the world around you. Sip your coffee slowly. Breathe and notice the presence of God.
New to Haymarket Church?
Welcome to Haymarket Church. We are glad you’ve decided to explore our website and we would love to meet you in person and answer any questions you might have about us. If you’d like to contact us, please send us an email at email@example.com or call us at (703) 688-2546. If you would like to learn more about our church, our pastor would be glad to take you out for a cup of coffee, answer your questions, and get to know you better.
You are invited to connect to God and to other people at Haymarket Church. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and whatever you believe, there is a place for you to grow in faith and life at Haymarket Church.
You are invited to worship with Haymarket Church every Sunday at 10 AM at Haymarket Elementary School in Dominion Valley (15500 Learning Lane, Haymarket, VA). Our worship style is modern and relatively informal. For more about worship, including what to wear, what to expect, how children participate, and much more, check out our Worship page. If you are just getting to know us and want answers to some common questions, check out our I’m New page or our What We Believe page. We look forward to meeting you and getting to know you soon!