February 17, 2015

Season of Lent

Posted in Christianity tagged , , , , , at 10:21 pm by Staci Hart Mauney

“At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him…” (Mark 1:12-13)

Even though I grew up in church, we didn’t celebrate Ash Wednesday or Lent. Easter was always a big deal, though, especially the new clothes. In fact, in spite of having Catholic and Methodist family members, all of whom celebrate Lent, I don’t remember hearing much about Ash Wednesday or Lent until I was in my 20s. In my defense, these family members live several hundred miles away. Then, when I was in my 20s, one of my mom’s friends, who is Lutheran, introduced us to the custom of Lent.

You may have been celebrating this for years, but for those of you who are like me and are unfamiliar with the practice – or have heard of it but don’t really know what it is – Lent is the Christian season leading up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter. During Lent, many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a time of fasting, repentance, moderation, and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to reflect on Jesus and his suffering and sacrifice. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan, so Lent is the start of a period that mirrors that time in the life of many Christians (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).

At my Baptist church a few years ago, we celebrated Lent. It was strictly voluntary, and it was the first time I had attended a church that participated. Each of us gave up something – I think I gave up chocolate or something else that I enjoyed eating. While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or Lent, it does mention the practice of repentance and the custom of mourning with ashes (2 Sam. 13:19; Est. 4:1; Job 2:8; Dan. 9:3; and Matt. 11:21). While the practice of repentance and spiritual discipline is something that Christians should do anyway, the season of Lent allows Christians to do this as a collective, providing support and encouragement for one another as we look toward the second coming of Jesus Christ with great anticipation and hope.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please forgive us our sins and give us strength for the days ahead as we practice moderation in all things, looking toward the great celebration that your resurrection brings! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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