A Lenten Bible study featuring Baptists from around the world is available free of charge from EthicsDaily.com.
Student and leader guides for the eight-week study, Eyeing Easter, Walking through Lent, are now available for download. The free study is produced in partnership by the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />BaptistCenter for Ethics and Baptist World Alliance. For many Baptists unfamiliar with Lent, it is an ideal introduction to this “in-between time” on the Christian calendar.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Lent “is the time between the declaration of guilt and the actualization of the sentence our guilt deserves,” says Carla Nelson, education consultant for Canadian Baptist Ministries. “It begins with Ash Wednesday, the day that declares death is certain. And, it ends with Easter, the day that begs to differ.”
“In our reaction to the evils of the medieval church, we Baptists threw out some customs and traditions that for centuries were an encouragement to the church to practice holy living, including fasting and the observance of Lent,” BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz wrote in the unit foreword. “In rejecting such practices, we have sometimes failed to hear their original call for repentance and change of heart.”
“The purpose of these Lenten lessons is to cause us to reflect and act upon the call of Christ to serve the world in which we live,” Lotz continued. “The 40 days of Lent should lead us to repent where we have failed God and our neighbors and challenge us to unite as a community of believers to be witnesses of God’s kingdom.”
Beginning with the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18), the weekly studies challenge Baptists to reflect on God’s history of deliverance, repent from self-centered and self-sufficient living, reaffirm their dependence upon God and recommit to walking the life of faith.
“Inspired by examples from the lives of people touched through the Baptist World Alliance, goodwill Baptists from around the world can join in prayer and action to further God’s redemptive work in the world,” Jan Turrentine, managing editor of Acacia Resources, the BCE’s publishing arm, wrote in the introduction. “As people changed by God’s love and forgiveness, we can embrace our responsibility to help others and create positive changes in their lives.”
Lent is the 40-day period before Easter, excluding Sundays. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter. Because Sunday is the day on which Christ arose, Sundays are not included in counting the days of Lent and are not considered suitable days for fasting and mourning for sins.
“Lent” is the Old English word for “spring,” the season during which the days of Lent fall. Tracing its beginnings to the 4th century of the church, Lent was originally a time of prayer, study and preparation for those who were to be baptized on Easter Sunday. Because these new believers would become part of a faith community, that entire community was also called to engage in a time of preparation.
The 40 days during Lent reflect other important times of discipline, devotion and preparation recorded in Scripture, most significantly, the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness praying and fasting immediately prior to launching his ministry.
Many Christian traditions today encourage prayer and fasting during Lent as a reminder of Jesus’ 40-day period of prayer and fasting. Others place less emphasis on fasting but focus instead on
charitable efforts. Still others give up something they enjoy, such as a favorite food or activity as part of spiritual discipline, to encourage humility and to remind them of the importance of the spiritual over the earthly.
Lesson writers are BWA leaders and active supporters. They include: Martin Accad, dean, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary; Daniel Carro, professor of divinity, John Leland Center; Dina Carro, member of the BWA study and research executive committee; Randy Hyde, pastor, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.; Emmanuel McCall, vice president, BWA; Paul Montacute, director, Baptist World Aid; Carla Nelson, education consultant, Canadian Baptist Ministries; Parush Parushev, professor, International Baptist Theological Seminary; and Craig Sherouse, pastor, First Baptist Church in Griffin, Ga.
Funding for the curriculum unit is made possible in part by a gift from Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston.
Why A Baptist Observes Lent
Lent—Preparing Your Church For New Life
Lent–Anachronism, Hindrance or Opportunity?
Lent–Why Observe It?
Click here to order the free, eight-week study, Eyeing Easter, Walking Through Lent: A Bible Study With Global Baptists