(The following paragraphs are a written invitation from the UMC Discipleship Ministries webpage)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: the early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.
It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self–examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; by living the vows of the baptismal covenant, and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word.
How does change really happen? I'm not talking about slight changes in our lifestyle, or our attitude, or our approach to life. I'm talking about change that makes everything different. The type of transformation that one never comes back from. The type of transformation that changes us physically, emotionally, spiritually and eternally. How does something like that happen?
Most often, it happens because of things we do not control. The loss of a loved one, or a career, or a serious health issue that forces a change in us. It happens during major life transitions like graduation, marriage, retirement. But it is rarely something we have full control over, and the change tends to happen to us, whether we want it to or not.
Go back and read that invitation at the beginning of this article again, especially the third paragraph. The season of Lent isn't just a season to prep for Easter Sunday morning and a family holiday meal after church. It is a season that calls us to take control of the change we'd like to see happen in our lives. It is a call to grab hold of the direction we head in, and work towards becoming who God is calling us to be. The invitation I shared with you is the way to make that happen. Those are the instructions to follow if you really want to change. These directions are necessary to truly become transformed, and transformed in a way that you can help direct. I invite you through the season of Lent once more. I pray that you will seek to become who God is calling you to become. Amen.