Lent is a 46-day period on the Christian calendar between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday in which Christians commit themselves to remembering the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is done through prayer, private and public worship, and self-denial or fasting.

The format of these devotionals exploring the shadow of the cross will follow these practices.

After this introductory week, the format of each week will be:

  • Monday: exploring an Old Testament passage that foreshadows the cross.
  • Tuesday: exploring a story from the life of Jesus overshadowed by the cross.
  • Wednesday: exploring a New Testament passage that illuminates the cross.
  • Thursday: examining the life of a martyr that reflects the cross.
  • Friday: practice and examine self-sacrifice as a way to live the cross ourselves.
  • Saturday: pray through the lessons revealed through the cross in the previous week.
  • Sunday: go to public worship and celebrate the resurrection in the midst of the shadow of the cross.

For this shorter first week, however, I want to take some time to explain the vision and purpose of these devotionals. Thursday, I will introduce more fully the concept of the “Shadow of the Cross” as a guiding Christian principle and its nature as both a sign of blessing and curse. On Friday of this week, I will discuss the concept of self-denial or fasting and how it can be practiced well. On Saturday, we will begin our practice of prayer focused on the lessons from the cross.

For tomorrow, however, I want us to take a look at a Christian martyr. It just so happens that Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, for 2018 falls on Valentine’s Day, so it seems appropriate to begin with the life of St. Valentine. We will do this in the first devotional tomorrow.

I hope that God will speak to you through the reading of these devotionals and that in reading them you will be drawn closer to him. I would like to thank the North American Baptist Conference for the invitation to write them.

In Christ,
Kerry L. Bender
Lent 2018