Biola University hopes to inspire students to reflect and meditate on the life of Jesus Christ through The Lent Project, a daily devotional designed to create an artistic and religious experience during the Easter season.
Set to last for 54 days, The Lent Project intends to guide believers on a reflective journey leading up to Christ's resurrection using works of art and music from the span of church history, including classic paintings, old Lenten hymns, as well as contemporary music, art and photography from the 21st century.
"The mood of Lent can be beautifully captured through the arts, which are often cathartic expressions of longing, suffering, loneliness, love, death and rebirth," said Barry H. Corey, President of Biola, in a statement.
Biola's Center for Christianity Culture and the Arts (CCCA) created the project's concept with each week focusing on different themes such as discipleship, the teachings of Christ, and Old Testament typologies.
Traditionally spanning 40 days, beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating on Palm Sunday, Lent is a period in which individuals undergo spiritual purification, meditation and penance, drawing from the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert before beginning his ministry.
"More than just a 40-day period of abstaining from coffee or chocolate, or whatever else might tempt you, Lent is a meaningful liturgical season of anticipating the focal point of our faith: Christ's sacrifice for us and the universal hope which his resurrection represents," said Corey. "Lent can be a beautifully reflective time for us to quiet our hearts and lean in to the spectacular reality of the cross, the crown and the empty tomb."
Contrary to popular belief, Lent is not just the practice of the spiritual disciplines of abstinence, but of engagement as well. Rather than being a season of only self-denial, Lent also encourages Christians to embrace daily prayer and meditation of the scriptures.
"We should not just think 'what can I give up?' but we should also ask ourselves, 'what can I add to my spiritual disciplines?'" said Greg Peters, Biola professor of medieval and spiritual theology, in a statement. "What this does is it causes someone who already has a lot going on to add something else. This, in turn, causes a person to examine their life for things that are superfluous and that only take up space and time."
Although Lent is widely observed by most Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans and Lutherans, some Protestants are also joining the tradition to observe Easter more meaningfully.
"Lent is like spiritual spring cleaning, a time to focus extra on my sin and to enter into the death of Christ," said Matt Barrios, an evangelical Biola graduate student, to The Christian Post. "One sin I'm especially repenting of this year is media gluttony so I'm putting off my unhealthy habits of over-consuming social media, TV, and the web."
Barrios also acknowledges that Lent is a period for embracing the life of Christ and says his focus this season will be to embrace a pure heart, which he hopes to cultivate through daily prayer walks.
CCCA created The Lent Project devotional after last year's successful Advent Project, which received over 52,000 views internationally.
Click here to view daily entries from The Lent Project.