I must apologize for not keeping up with my "Blogging" here on our church website! Hopefully, I can force myself to do better in the coming months!
Starting on Ash Wednesday, you’ll most likely hear people in some faith circles talk about what they’ve given up for Lent or how they are practicing Lent this year. Perhaps you were raised with some sort of Lent practice. Or maybe you’re not familiar with the history and purpose of this time of year. Wherever you land, it’s a great time to discover the origins of Lent, the different ways people practice Lent, and why it can help you in your spiritual disciplines this season.
What is Lent?
Lent is a period of 40 days that focuses on prayer and fasting, and it is what the word itself means. It is a 40-day span because it commemorates the 40-day fast Jesus undertook in his time in the desert (Matthew 4:1-4). Many churches across the world celebrate Lent. Historians think it is likely that Lent was first observed during the early days of Christianity when the apostles were leading the church. However, the practice of Lent was not formalized until 325 AD during the First Council of Nicaea. The First Council of Nicaea was held to consolidate and validate various early church practices. Whether you choose to count Lent from the time of the apostles or after the First Council of Nicaea, the practice is ancient in the history of the church.
When is Lent?
While the season of Lent is usually at some point between February and March each year, the specific day it begins and ends varies, based on when Easter is going to be celebrated. Easter in the West is connected to the celebration of Passover, and the Hebrew calendar for the dates for Passover have to do with the lunar cycle. That’s why the actual day Easter is celebrated, and therefore the dates for Lent change each year.
From Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent, until Easter, there are 46 days. If you’re keeping up with the math, that means there are an additional six days over the 40 considered Lent. This is because Sundays are a respite from fasting. Additionally, Lent ends the Thursday before Good Friday. This means that Lent actually ends three days before Easter Sunday.
How do I participate in Lent?
There are many approaches to the fasting that is considered central to Lent. Some people choose to fast from specific food and drink. It has been a long tradition to fast from meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and alcohol during Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays, and to change eating habits to include only one large meal per day during fast days, with smaller meals and snacks to sustain oneself. Today, Christians can choose to make their fast for the Lentin season in different ways. Some people choose to abstain from certain activities during the 40 days. Some decide to stay off social media or to avoid certain entertainments. While fasting during Lent has traditionally been for the purpose of repentance, many Christians today use the reminder of fasting on these days to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and the days that led up to his crucifixion on the cross.
On Ash Wednesday many people will take and wear their ashes and give up something for 40 days.
Maybe it will be the swearing off of chocolate or perhaps even giving up Facebook. Those things are fine, but what if it’s something deeper that God wants us to give up?
What if He wants you to give up that pornography? What if He wants you to give up that alcohol? What if He wants you to let go of that anger and resentment? What if God wants you to finally stop holding on to your bitterness toward someone else and he’s asking to just forgive them? What if it’s much more than those surface things we think we are sacrificing? What if God wants us to give up our sins and truly repent?
God wants us to pray and humble ourselves before Him and to genuinely search our hearts for those sins that we seem to just excuse away or ignore in our lives. He wants us to bring it to Him and turn away from it once and for all.
Lent marks a time of true sorrow and repented hearts that are yearning for forgiveness….....Forgiveness that was bought for us on a cross.
Are you ready to search your own heart & humble yourself before the Lord, and ask forgiveness of all sins?