Baptists are not known for observing the Christian Year, as such.  I have sometimes joked that lots of Baptists think lent is something that gets on your clothes or in your belly button (though pronounced the same by most of us, that word is actually “lint”).  The period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday does not attract a lot of attention by many of us evangelicals.  Though we do have a few Tennessee Baptist Churches that engage in at least an adjusted observation of the liturgical calendar, most delay much attention to the last week (Holy Week) of this season that culminates in Resurrection Day, popularly called Easter Sunday.

Whether you, as a worship leader, address this period in your worship planning and material for worship in this season or not, you, as a worshiper, may very well find spiritual benefit from this season of preparation, penitence, and deep reflection.  The Ancient Church observed the season of Lent as a time of preparing candidates for baptism.  Somewhere along the line the emphasis shifted to a more general spirit of penitence, such as would have been practiced by those seeking reconciliation with the Church.  I can remember my schoolboy friends who attended Catholic churches, who gave up some privilege for Lent.  Those ideas were foreign to this little Baptist “P.K.” (preacher’s kid), though I do recall wondering how well I would do hiding my ball and glove, or passing on popcorn for a period of 40 weekdays.  I am not sure anything so tactile would have advanced my spiritual ferver as a ten-year-old.  Like many both within and outside those denominational folds, I was missing the point.

I confess openly that I need times of deepened spiritual concentration and reflection.  I do not just mean navel-gazing.  I mean times of intentionally opening the doors to the spiritual closets in my soul that tend to be ignored at the expense of my holy busy-ness day in and day out.  Engaging in daily readings of the prophets, epistles to New Testament believers, and words from the Gospels that have been selected by others with some objectivity has a way of speaking God’s Word into my spirit.  The little denominational symbol up in the corner of the webpage of the lectionary readings is of little consequence at all.  The anonymity and denominational distance actually seems to further remove any sense of manipulation for me.  I am most certainly not praise conscious of whoever made these selections.  I am, however, astounded to the point of speechless wonder at how pointed the Word can pierce my soul and throw scarring blaze into the corners of my lazy soul.  I need to need the conviction of the Spirit, and to lay thoughts and attitudes before Him Who has been looking at them all along.  For me there is something about this time of year that is pregnant with the necessity of cleansing.  The historic story moves toward the cross in these next few weeks.  The song in mind and spirit seems to be one that was penned by Watts:

            “Was it for crimes that I had done

            He groaned upon the tree

            Amazing pity, grace unknown,

            And love beyond degree!”

Worship Leader, I invite you to observe this season of Lent as a time of confession, penitence, and preparation for renewal.  You do not need to mark your head with ashes from a palm branch, or observe any precise daily liturgical routine to enter the heart and soul of the season.  These actions are certainly available in some form to most of us, but what is most important is that we engage with God, allowing His Holy Spirit to expose and convict.  His renewal of right spirit in us is not just historical fact from the day of our initial decision for Christ.  We need a Savior, “Who was and is, and is to come.”  Perhaps our churches need our model as confessing sinners more than our instruction as cheerful leaders.

Mindful of my need, 


Explore posts in the same categories: Private Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

6 Comments on “Lent”

  1. Paul,

    Thanks for this excellent reminder!


    • pclarkjr Says:

      I am praying that by sharing my personal journey I might encourage others to join along the road. Grace of Christ be with you, Justin.

  2. Bruce Gouge Says:

    Thanks Paul, “WOW’ It’s easy to overlook the devote greatness of the love our Lord has done for us. Thanks for the reminder. 1st.vrs 2nd question. “Would He devote that sacred head For sinners such as I? Great stuff Bro.Paul

  3. kirk Says:

    “Perhaps our churches need our model as confessing sinners more than our instruction as cheerful leaders.” Thanks for that reminder, Paul.

    Like those you described, I did not grow up with much knowledge of the Church Calendar. I thought that was “Catholic stuff.” But I’ve grown in my appreciation for the liturgical and disciplinary side of it. I believe God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And humans haven’t changed much through the centuries. God ordained some liturgy knowing how much it helps our minds slow down and ponder, and how well it illustrates Truth.


    • pclarkjr Says:

      “helps our minds slow down and ponder…” so very true, Kirk. It is so counter to our culture that keeps pounding us to do more, speed up, produce, produce, produce.
      Kirk, your unique role in ministry gives you a special position from which to see this tension between our need to slow down and ponder through a steady discipline spurred on by trust that the Lord will meet us in that consistent rhythm of repetition and the other side of things that wants everything to look good and to be attractive. Thank you for what you bring to your church and to fellow ministers.

  4. greentub Says:

    Good insight, Paul. Thanks for this.

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