From Ashes To Easter – A Lenten Devotional

A time of repentance, reflection and renewal has been practiced by Christians as a 40-day season (excluding Sundays) from the fourth century to the present day. Lent had its roots in baptismal preparation, fasting before celebration of Easter, and renewed baptismal commitment for those who had fallen away from the faith. 

This booklet offers short, to-the-point devotions that do not take much time so that you may find joy in the simple Lenten discipline of daily devotions. Ways to access the devotional: From Ashes To Easter – Lenten Devotional.


Introduction

As we approach Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent, it seems worthwhile to say a few words of introduction regarding this historic, often misunderstood observance.

Without presenting a detailed explanation of the development of Lent, it is enough to say that a time of repentance, reflection and renewal has been practiced by Christians as a 40-day season (excluding Sundays) from the fourth century to the present day. Lent had its roots in baptismal preparation, fasting before celebration of Easter, and renewed baptismal commitment for those who had fallen away from the faith.

Historically, Lent has been associated with the three spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (see Matthew 6). Lutherans have often focused their observance on growing deeper in the Word of God, study of Luther’s Small Catechism, and reflection on one’s sinfulness, repentance and renewal through God’s grace and forgiveness. What is important, for Lutherans, is that Lenten observance be seen as a gracious gift for renewal and spiritual refreshment, not a good work to please God or earn His favor.

Martin Luther, preaching on Matthew 4:1-11, wrote about the spiritual discipline of fasting, “But the worst of all is that we have adopted and practiced fasting as a good work: not to bring our flesh into subjection; but, as a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace.” (Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent, Luther’s Church Postil). Whether we share Lenten devotions, worship more frequently, give up things for Lent or engage in the biblical practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, it may never be understood as “a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace.” Lent itself is a gift of God! So, with regard to Lenten devotions and all Lenten disciplines: use them in grace! People often become demoralized and disheartened when, by the end of the first week, they have stumbled in their Lenten discipline. If you miss a day’s devotion, or several days, catch up when you have time. There’s no eternal harm in reading two day’s devotions at once, or reading one week’s devotions all together, if necessary. This booklet offers short, to-the-point devotions that do not take much time so that you may find joy in the simple Lenten discipline of daily devotions.

This Lenten daily devotional is based upon the daily lectionary provided in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Year I. The daily lectionary appoints three lessons for each day, although, for the purposes of this booklet, one reading has been chosen as the basis for each day’s reflection. This year, each North American Lutheran Church executive staff member has written a portion of the Lenten devotions, ending with Bishop Dan Selbo preparing the devotions for Holy Week and Easter.

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