Depending on your church background, you may be aware that it is now Lent–the season that comes before Easter. Christians around you may be talking about what they’ve decided to give up for Lent. Catholics may be talking about not eating meat on Fridays. Maybe you are well aware of Lent and what it means. Or maybe not.
If you don’t know, Lent is a 40 day period before Easter that many Christians use as a time to prepare their hearts for the coming of Easter. Many churches have Wednesday night church services in addition to Sundays as a special observance of the season. Sundays are technically not included in Lent, so it is about 7 1/2 weeks long and ends on Easter Sunday. Many people of faith choose something of great meaning or importance to them that they voluntarily give up or abstain from during Lent. I have given up everything from TV to chocolate, though the latter was not successful at all. As a child, my family (who was Lutheran) would give up meat for the entirety of Lent, not just Fridays. That was hard! And my parents must not have realized that Sundays didn’t count, either. We ate a lot of tuna fish and fish sticks, including a tuna fish, mushroom soup and peas dish that I will still not eat to this day. Sorry, Mom.
Whether you grew up observing Lent every year or never even heard of Lent before, you may be asking, what is the point of observing Lent? The Bible doesn’t say anywhere in it, “You must observe Lent” or “No eating meat on Fridays during Lent.” You may decide that Lent has no personal or religious meaning for you, and I won’t tell you that’s a completely invalid viewpoint.
As for me, I have found meaning in the season of Lent. It’s a good time for reflection, for rededication to Bible study and prayer. I also use it as a time to remember in a special way what my Lord did for me on the cross almost 2000 years ago. It’s painful but necessary to remember how much Jesus suffered for me, and to have a renewed willingness to take up my cross and suffer as well. I don’t feel as joyful on Easter when I haven’t taken this time to remember what leads up to Easter.
Whether or not you decide to observe the season of Lent, I pray that this will be a time of remembering the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. Read one of the gospel accounts and feel for yourself the power, the pain, the sacrifice and the love of Jesus for all humanity. It’s worth repeating and remembering.