In the winter, the earth kind of dies. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, there is not much color or lush vegetation to be enjoyed (except snow covered pine trees). It's a time of dormancy for us too. We close ourselves off in our houses and take a break, hibernate sort of. It is cozy and romantic for awhile, but then we want Spring. (I notice from facebook that many of my friends have arrived at this point and they want it NOW!) We long to get outside. We can't wait for the vibrant colors to return. We are itching to feel the warm sun on our skin. We want new.
In my mind, it is ridiculous to not parallel the anticipation of Spring with the simultaneous arrival and hope of Easter. We imagine girls in pastel dresses, birds chirping, chicks breaking free from their eggs and flowers blooming everywhere. New life.
The older I get the more Easter is battling with Christmas for first place in my holiday loving heart. We are celebrating the very foundation of our faith! We reacquaint ourselves with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Messiah of the world. Jesus rose from the dead...much as we long for Spring to rise from the dead of Winter.
I think this deserves much more of our attention than just one Sunday morning and possibly a Friday night. One of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg gets it too. I couldn't put it any better than she does,
"Over the last few years, I’ve come to believe that the 40 days leading up to Easter can be some of the most life-giving, perspective-changing, hope-filled days of the entire year. It is a time set apart for prayer, repentance, and self-denial. This is a time designed to stir your hunger for God and lean in to hear His voice more clearly. This is a season of both repentance and the renewal of faith."
I've written posts the past few years about the whys and hows of why I believe these 40 days need to be more emphasized in the Christian world. It's an intentional effort to enhance spiritual growth/discipline and Easter worship. (Oh how I love the word intentional.) If you are interested you can find and read them here and also here.
As I grow in my understanding of and annually participate in this holiday season, I (and we as a family) have engaged in fasting, reading a portion of the Bible intensely, memorizing Scripture or focusing on prayer. All have radically changed and excited me. I love a time to become more acutely aware of and lean in to hear God's voice which stimulates my hunger for Him.
So this year I'm planning to read all four Gospels and I wondered if you'd like to join me. Imagine filling your mind with the earthly life of Jesus. It will be wonderful, fun, sad, emotional, triumphant and glorious (!) but most of all deep and meaningful. And we will give Him the honor He is due for making a way for us. The story - the history - will come alive and just in time. I guarantee it will make your Easter Sunday worship more meaningful than ever.
There are 80 chapters total, so it only requires reading two chapters per day. We will start next Wednesday, March 5. (If you look through your calendar you'll note that's about 46 days - you get Sundays off).
It's often more enjoyable in a group. Just comment on facebook or send me a private message if you're in. I so hope you do.
Oh and while you are busy delighting in the Word, Spring will arrive and you'll find yourself living in the new and maybe you'll be new too.
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"**Isa. 43:18