Today is Ash Wednesday. Today begins the forty day season leading up to the climactic celebration of the church calendar at Easter.
What Is Lent?
In Lent, we say “No” to self to say “Yes” to more of Christ. Lent, an old English word that means “springtime,” has been a part of the Christian calendar from the first or second century. It has traditionally been a time of fasting, self-reflection, repentance, almsgiving, abstaining from festivities and entertainment, and observance of special worship services.
Why Should We Observe Lent?
Duty grows delight. Just as the delight of exercise comes from regular practice, so the delight of knowing Christ grows out of spiritual practices. To delight fully in the power of resurrection at Easter, we faithfully carry our cross throughout Lent; the journey to resurrection power always goes through the cross (cf. Phil 3:10). We journey and focus more sharply on Christ as we give up things that compete with our devotion to God to immerse ourselves in the grand story of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
How Can I Observe Lent?
Use the following suggestions as guidelines to help you make Lent a more meaningful time of reflection and meditation.
1.Give up (i.e., fast from) something (or a category of things) that is particularly important to you (e.g., Netflix, Facebook, desserts, music) in order to make room for something that can help you draw near to Christ.
2.Fill the vacuum of your fast with more of Jesus through time in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, reflection/journaling, serving your neighbors, and/or praying together at church (7 PM, Wednesdays; 7 AM, Saturdays). Resist the temptation to fill the vacuum created by this fasting with “replacement idols.” For example, if you give up video games, don’t fill that emptiness by simply watching more television.
3.In light of the almsgiving tradition associated with Lent, consider “trimming some fat” out of your budget (e.g., eating out less, not going to the movies, etc.) and giving to the church or a particular ministry.
4.Consider fasting from eating on Good Friday and then breaking fast after the evening service.
(These reflections build on thoughts from Dr. Scottie May and Pastor Reggie Ramos).