Lent 2023

Lent is the season in the church calendar that invites us to remember Jesus’ intentional journey toward the Cross. That journey invites our reflection on the freely given love of God and on our desperate need for it, despite our human tendency to turn toward other powers to satisfy and save us. The Lenten journey is a sober journey in many ways, but it is undertaken alongside Jesus' faithful commitment to make the love and forgiveness of God available to us all. Our prayer is that we would journey together this Lent with increasing honesty about ourselves and increasing connection to Jesus who loved us enough to die for us.

This year our Lenten journey involves 2 core components: a 5-day/week Devotional and a series of 3 Fasts


Fasting is the classic spiritual practice for the season of Lent. Fasting, intentionally going without an aspect of our life, often reveals to us ways in which we rely on things like food or entertainment or the power of our voice in the world beyond what they can really do for us. These aspects of life soothe and satisfy us in ways that ultimately only God can truly do. So, we practice doing without to let things return to their rightful place in our lives and to renew our experience of satisfaction in God and the things of God.

This Lent we invite you to a series of 3, roughly 2-week, fasts with us as a community in recognition that more than one thing likely has an inappropriate grip on our lives!

Fast #1 – A partial fast from food (Ash Wednesday to the 3rd Sunday of Lent, 2/22-3/11)
Unless you have practice in fasting from food, few should dive into an extended full-food fast (and none without clear guidance from those who are practiced in it)! Our suggestion is that we each pare down to “simple eating” for these first 17 days of Lent. You know your eating habits and what simple eating would look like in your life. A suggestion would be to forego meat, sweets, and alcohol (or maybe all drinks other than water…though going “cold turkey” without caffeine may not be advisable either if you need to continue to function).

Fast #2 – A media fast (3rd Sunday to 5th Sunday of Lent, 3/12-3/26)
For this middle portion of Lent, our encouragement is to plan for a media fast of some kind. We are all aware of the seemingly endless ways that media dominates our attention. And many of us carry some, at least mild, awareness that media may be a detrimental force in our relationships, on our mental health, for our focus on other, more important and life-giving matters. Studies are regularly revealing social media in particular to have troubling “side effects” without disciplined use, but media of all kinds (movies, shows, podcasts, blogs, sports...) take up often large chunks of our precious time. What would a meaningful fast from media be in your life, given your particular patterns with media? You could eliminate it all (beyond work and communication functions, perhaps) for 2 weeks. You could choose a single form of media to eliminate. Many at The River have been served by occasionally fasting from all media for the final 2 hours of our day. The invitation is to choose something well-defined…and see what doing without it reveals to you. This article might be instructive and inspirational for you as you do: https://renovare.org/articles/holy-hunger

Fast #3 – A fast of silence to tame our words (5th Sunday of Lent to Easter, 3/26-4/8)
In this final stretch of Lent, our fasting turns to the power of our words and how hard it can be to “tame our tongue.” Taming the tongue is difficult in part because there are so many well-worn ways in which words can be harmful (or at least unhelpful). Harsh words. Gossip. Sarcasm. Coarse words. Words that fail to honor a tender moment. Having to get the last word. To endeavor to go “cold turkey” on all unhelpful uses of words for these 2 weeks seems daunting(!), so we invite you to approach the taming of your words indirectly with a daily practice of silence, fasting from words. Contemporary Christian author and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer guided his Christian community to a twice daily practice of silence, explaining: We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God. (Life Together p. 79) Consider how you might shape a start and end of day practice of silence for these 2 weeks. Make a reasonable stretch for yourself, 5 or 10 minutes each time perhaps. As you keep silent, ask God for the fruit of more and more of your words coming from the overflow of the Word of God in you…and be aware of where specifically you notice your need for further “tongue taming.”

Fasting Resources:
Fasting for Families


The devotional will serve as a guide for us as we walk with Jesus toward the Cross this Lent. It follows the events of Jesus’ journey as described in the Gospel of John, chapters 12-17. With 5 entries per week (3 for the first half-week), you’ll have the opportunity to read the scripture story along with some brief thoughts written on it and then be invited to reflect and pray on what you’ve read. Regularly, we also include creative forms of engaging the scripture and engaging with God.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL Lenten Devotional

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