By Ryan Flanigan, Worship Director at All Saints Dallas
Lent simply means “springtime.” It is the season in the Christian year when followers of Jesus walk with him to his death and burial, so that we can participate fully with him in his resurrection. Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. It begins Ash Wednesday and ends Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). When we engage in this season the way faithful Christians have throughout the centuries, we renounce and reorder our rhythms into Christ.
Lent is about rhythm. We are rhythmic creatures. We do things in sequences and steps, marching to the beats of drummers. The problem is, there are many drummers out there, pounding away to capture our attention, calling us to follow them and submit to their stories. Lent is the Jesus drum, calling us back into the left-right-left of God’s story. If it is not Jesus’ drum that we’re marching to, it’s someone else’s. If it is not the story of God that we’re submitting our lives to, it’s someone else’s story.
Lent is a time for the church to renounce all the other stories we have let define us, and to submit singularly to God’s story. This is not a robotic submission. Robots don’t have hearts. We march to the beats of drummers because we actually like the music they’re playing. We desire the life they present to us, and so we follow them. With every beat and step we are being formed to look like the drummer we’re following. This is why it’s so important that we get in step with Jesus. We want to be like him.
In order to become like Jesus, we reorder our life once again into the story that defines who we are as his followers. During Lent we identify with the story of Israel, which finds fulfillment in the story of Jesus. We, like Israel, have fallen and wander around in the wilderness. And we, like Jesus, must wrestle in the desert of temptation. We enter into his sufferings. We fast. We pray. We simplify our lives. And we do so together as the body of Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, and for the glory of God our Father.
Ryan Flanigan was born and raised in Chicagoland and has been leading church music since 1997. He grew up in a musical family and a church that valued music greatly. Ryan moved to Dallas in 2000 to attend Christ for the Nations Institute. He graduated from CFNI in 2002 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Dallas Baptist University in 2004. He moved back to Chicagoland to attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) from 2004 to 2007. He earned a master’s degree at TEDS and spent the next seven years in full-time worship arts ministry at River Valley Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. In addition to leading church music, Ryan loves reading good fiction, exploring Dallas foodie culture and building relationships with local artists. One of his greatest passions is writing, performing and recording his songs. Ryan is married to Melissa, and they have three kids.