A Lenten Bible study featuring Baptists from around the world is available from EthicsDaily.com.
Student and leader guides for the eight-week study, “Eyeing Easter, Walking through Lent,” may be ordered here. Sample student lessons and leader guides are available for review.
The undated, online unit was produced in partnership with the Baptist World Alliance and is designed for use from Sunday, Feb. 10, until Sunday, March 31.
For Baptists familiar with Lent, the lessons provide a meaningful way to journey through the Lenten season.
For Baptists unfamiliar with Lent, it is an ideal introduction to this “in-between time” on the Christian calendar.
Lent “is the time between the declaration of guilt and the actualization of the sentence our guilt deserves,” wrote Canadian Carla Nelson. “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,” wrote Denton Lotz, former BWA general secretary 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.”
The weekly studies challenge Baptists to reflect on God’s history of deliverance, to repent from self-centered and self-sufficient living, to reaffirm their dependence upon God and to recommit to walking the life of faith.
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, the 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 include:
â— Martin Accad, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut
â— Daniel Carro, professor of divinity, John Leland Center, and Dina Carro, an active BWA supporter
â— Randy Hyde, pastor, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.
â— Emmanuel McCall, a former vice president, BWA
â— Paul Montacute, retired director, Baptist World Aid
â— Carla Nelson, Canadian Baptist leader
â— Parush Parushev, professor, International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague, Czech Republic
â— Craig Sherouse, pastor, Second Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.