Have you ever heard someone talking about Lent? Maybe you heard in on the bus, saw something about it mentioned on the T.V. or read it on someone’s Facebook status but you’re not really sure what the deal is. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Hopefully this will help you understand the spiritual significance of Lent better.
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Lent is a 40 weekday period of time of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter. It officially starts on a Wednesday which is called Ash Wednesday. This year, Ash Wednesday is March 9. Take a peek at a print calendar (I know… so old school) and it’ll probably have it written on it. Given that the focus of Easter is on the death & resurrection of Jesus the God man, the forty days before that which is Lent represent the time (forty days) that Jesus spent in desert wilderness where he fasted, prayed and was tempted or tested. Check out the bible story here and watch a still image journey video on our site here.
Lent wasn’t practiced in the bible but it’s been a custom practiced by many Christians for most of the last two thousand years.
Lent has it’s origins in the fourth century. Lent was originally established for new Christians, those who experienced a call upon their lives to believe and follow Jesus. They were to spend 40 days and 40 nights preparing for their baptism. If at the end they still wanted to follow Jesus, then on Easter Eve they would be baptized as the sun was rising in the east, signaling the new day, the new era, inaugurated because of the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.
Imagine the significance of that! Preparing for their vocation as Christians the same way Jesus prepared for His vocation as the Messiah: 40 days of introspection and self-examination. Wow, cool huh?!
Later, the Church used the 40 days as a time of renewal for those who were already Christians; because at a certain point everyone in the Roman Empire became a Christian; everyone was baptized as infants. So the time of Lent was used as a time of renewal and recommitment to the Christian life, examining our lives in light of the One we are supposed to follow.1
LENT HERE AND NOW
Because Jesus’ wilderness experience was marked with discipline, fasting, prayer and deprivation, people usually practice these things during the Lent season. Often times people will ‘fast from’ or give up certain foods or habits that they enjoy. Maybe you’ve heard of people giving up T.V., gaming, internet, Facebook, fast food, going to the movies or texting. It’s a good time of year to think about our lives and reflect on our dreams, purpose, belief and what things drive us in life.
Could you give something up for 5 or 6 weeks? Do you want to give it a shot? Try giving up something significant in your life like texting or Facebook… betcha can’t (or won’t)!
Would you be willing to risk contemplation and soul searching? Take time these next 40 days to remind yourself who you really are as a Christian. You’re God’s adopted daughters and sons, God’s treasure, so priceless that God was willing to go to the wall for you and hang on a tree to tell you that you are loved, that you have value and purpose.
Share your thoughts below about Lent, sacrifice or discipline.
1history from Mark Trotter, Collected SermonsTweet