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Lent is a season in the Church Calendar, beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 14, 2024) and concluding with the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection on Easter Sunday (March 31, 2024), that offers opportunity for us to reorder our spiritual lives. 

Observing Lent

Lent is a time to return to the basics, to orient ourselves around the spiritual realities of life. It is a season of spiritual pilgrimage, a journey wherein we choose to die with Christ and be buried with Him, so we can be raised in the resurrection of new life.

At Calvary, in this season we emphasize the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and giving as Jesus encouraged in Matthew 6. Lent provides a wonderful opportunity to do this together, as a church body. 

For this Lenten season, on Sundays we will encourage you to look at how God used shepherds throughout the history of His people and what that means for us today as we still seek to follow Him.

During Lent, we set aside extra time to pray. Our hope is that by taking this intentional step as a congregation in this season, we will come to Easter having developed or deepened a habit of prayer. For it is through prayer that God transforms our lives, it is an avenue through which His character is made evident in us.

Lent is a time for self-examination and contemplation. To facilitate this, Christians often set aside certain foods or non-essential activities. Fasting is not meant to be deprivation or a means of earning grace. Rather, fasting is meant to provide spiritual focus. By setting aside something that is normally a part of your daily life, you are creating space for God. As you voluntarily deny yourself, you are reminded of Jesus as the source of your true sustenance.

Fasting is not limited to food (though many people may choose a meal or specific food group from which to fast). Abstaining from certain practices can help us loosen the grip that unhealthy appetites and destructive addictions have on our lives. You may consider fasting from watching tv, wearing makeup, playing video games, listening to the radio /podcasts or eating processed foods. To abstain from these things, things that are not in and of themselves bad, helps us resist subtle idolatry and refocus our lives on God.

On Sundays, we set aside our fast as we spend time gathered as a church, feasting in the presence of the Lord.

During the season of Lent we are spending extended time in prayer. As part of this practice we seek to know how God would have us deepen our giving. Consider ways that you can express your faith by following Jesus’s example of sacrifice both in His life and ultimately in His death.

As a church we use this season in the church calendar to focus on the Jonathan Fund. This is our church’s fund set aside to encourage those who are suffering. Consider giving to this fund or finding other ways to encourage those who are suffering that they may persevere through trial.

  • Give Online at
    Calvary Church accepts online donations through checking or savings accounts, as well as debit and credit cards.
  • Text Your Gift Amount & Jonathan to 616-294-0700
    The first time you text to give, you will be prompted to visit a secure URL. Once you click the registration link, you will enter your credit or debit card information. At this point your donation will process and you will receive a confirmation text. 
  • Give in person or by mail
    If you would like to designate your offering to the Jonathan Fund, giving envelopes are available in the racks between the seats in the Sanctuary. You can also mail your gift to:  PO Box 1600, Grand Rapids MI 49501.

In the early centuries of the church, the forty days before Easter came to be recognized as the season of Lent (a Latin word that means “spring”), when new converts were prepared for baptism. This preparation included biblical instruction, prayer, repentance and fasting. In time, the practices of Lent were embraced by the entire church. We continue to mark this season by celebrating baptism during our Easter services. If you are ready to make a public proclamation of your faith in Jesus, to publicly turn your back on sin and take on the new life of Jesus, consider being baptized. 

Contact Christie to sign up, or receive more information about baptism at Calvary Church.

Lent Reflections

As we observe the season of Lent this year, we want to focus on our need for a shepherd. In Psalm 100:3 we are told, ”Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” We have not been created for a life of individual reign, we have been created by God, our great Master and Shepherd, to follow Him. For this Lenten season, we want to look at how God used shepherds throughout the history of His people and what that means for us today as we still seek to follow Him.

The symbol of the shepherd is found throughout Scripture and we see many of those appointed by God having that role as well. From Abel, the first shepherd offering his first and best to God in worship, to a young shepherd boy named David, we see God consistently looking to shepherds to lead His people throughout the Old Testament. The visual of the shepherd represents our God who loves us, cares for us and keeps watch over us. 

We encourage you to read Psalm 23 every day this week. As you read, let this Psalm be a commitment between you and God that through home life, work, school, Lenten fast, whatever it may be, that you would recognize and declare that He is the Shepherd of your life and that with Him, you lack nothing.

For our second week of Lent, let’s look at Abraham, one of our Old Testament patriarchs. Abraham and his family were nomadic shepherds. Genesis 12:16
tells us it was through raising livestock that he provided for his family throughout his life. 

Abraham was not just a livestock owner though, he was also handpicked by God to lead His people. God made a promise in Genesis 12 to make Abraham into a great nation and to bless the people of the world through his family line. Throughout his story, we can see that Abraham consistently heard from God, worshipped God and followed where God led. Abraham lived as an example of faith, obedience and trust in the God of the universe. He showed such great faith that he was willing to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, in order to be obedient to God. His leadership and faith were beacons for generations. The flock under his care would have known clearly that their father Abraham trusted in the Most High God.

For this week, please read Genesis 12-15 and be reminded of Abraham’s obedience to his shepherd, God, as he was called to lead others. May this be an encouragement to each of us to also lead those around us with faith, trust and dependence on the Most High God.

The story of Joseph in the Bible is full of highs and lows. By time his story ends in Genesis 50, Joseph has gone from shepherding a flock to becoming second in command among the most powerful nation in the world as well as having provided for his entire family during the great famine! But how did he end up there? This week of Lent, we will find out, as we spend time reading and reflecting on Genesis 37-50.

Joseph didn’t end up as the second most influential man in Egypt through his own hard work, special knowledge or an ability to climb a corporate ladder. It was through faithfulness and trusting in His God. His journey began as a lowly shepherd tending the flock in the fields alongside his family. From his place as a shepherd, he proceeds to lose the respect of his family, is sold off by his brothers, ends up being a slave in the house of a high ranking government official, is wrongly accused of a crime, and is finally thrown in jail unjustly for many years. It was a long and trying journey before he was able to accomplish the task God desired him to do. 

As we reflect on this story during this Lent season, let us consider how Joseph’s story was a foreshadowing to Jesus’ story. Jesus’ journey of being faithful was anything but easy. He too came as a shepherd to bless, serve and save the world, yet the world rejected Him. And similarly to Joseph, Jesus was put on trial for crimes He didn’t commit, and was hated by many. Yet even through all of this, He accomplished what God the Father asked of Him, to lay down His life for His sheep. 

By Jon Nuenke
Associate Director, Facilities

Now Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). This once prince of Egypt became a shepherd at the age of 40 in preparation for his future job as leader and deliverer of the nation of Israel.


Moses learned the hard way that if the Hebrew people were going to be rescued from slavery in Egypt, it would not be through his position or power. Exodus 2:11-25 says he betrayed the house of Pharaoh and was rejected by the Hebrew people – he was rendered incapable. He transitioned from being provided for to being the provider. This future deliverer of God’s people was taught humility by learning what it was like to be meek and dependent upon God. In his 40 years of shepherding, he learned humility submits to the Lord, humility brings wisdom, and humility allows for compassion and sympathy. He was attentive to God’s voice, enabling him to be one of the most powerful intercessors of the Bible.

As we contemplate the life of Moses, take courage as you go before the Lord in prayer this week, interceding on behalf of those who have yet to discover the powerful, almighty, and merciful love of Jesus. Submit to God’s ability, wisdom and strength to accomplish His plan and fulfill His ways instead of our own. 

By Ann Bagley
Co-Director, Calvary Kids

For this week’s reflection, we turn to David, arguably the most influential shepherd in the Bible short of our Good Shepherd, Jesus.

When we meet David, he is approximately fifteen years old. As a reference, this is equivalent to today’s ninth grade student. Before the age of 15, we find out David slayed a lion and a bear while tending his flock. We can see that even “elementary and middle-school David” was learning to shepherd and protect his flock. This is because God had an identity and a plan for David. God had young David practicing the very things that would make him one of Israel’s greatest kings. His anointing from the Lord at 15 was the turning point in David’s life. Do you think David could see then that the things he had done to that point were to prepare him to live into this God-given identity?

God has a good plan and a unique identity for each of us. To God, our identity is about more than our failures or mistakes, it is about who He created us to be. We see mistakes in David’s life and yet David is said to be a man after God’s own heart. Through this we see that if we will make God’s agenda our agenda, as David did, God will make it clear to us who we are in Him and what our Kingdom role is.

This week read though 1 Samuel 16-17 with the idea of identity in mind. Ask God to reveal to you your identity in Him. See, once David knew his God-given identity – “shepherd-poet-warrior-king” – and followed the Spirit’s leading to walk in it, Kingdom success was certain. Then allow yourself to be led into action that is aligned with your God-given identity, being confident that if God is in it, Kingdom success is inevitable. 

By Rodney Velting
Director, Seventh & Eighth Ministry

To begin our Lenten season this year, we looked together at Psalm 23 and were reminded that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.  As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knows each of His sheep intimately. He knows our joys and sorrows, our struggles and triumphs. He walks beside us in our darkest valleys and His comforting presence gives us hope in the midst of hardships. While we often stray from His path, He never gives up on us, He tirelessly pursues us, leading us back to Himself. 

This Jesus, the God of the universe, made Himself like us so that He could care for us. In John 10:11, Jesus Himself declares, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” These words resonate with profound meaning, they speak not only of His willingness to sacrifice but also of tender care and boundless love. Not only does Jesus love us enough to lead us, care for us, provide for us but He loves us enough to die for us. He loves you enough to die on the cross for your sin and for mine.  

 There is a song that declares, “Amazing love, oh what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me. My debt He paid and my death He dies that I might live.” As we enter Holy Week, let us look to the Good Shepherd, the One Who has laid His life down for us. Please read Matthew 9 and John 10 as we continue to be reminded of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Remember, we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 

By Andy Crowder
Minister, Worship Ministry