What is Lent and why do I observe it?
Posted on March 07 2014
LENT. I'm giving up Facebook. I'm giving up chocolate. I'm giving up bread. I'm giving up soda.
But why? Do you know? Is it just "the thing" to do?
Lent is far more than that to me. It has deep significance and meaning. I don't take it lightly, or flippantly.
For me, Lent is step one in prepping for what is the most important holiday in my faith. Easter.
If you are not a Christian this post won't hold much meaning for you. Please don't be offended. This is just me, explaining why I do something. Why something holds such great meaning for me. Truly personal.
So if you're curious…read on. If not, it's ok…click away…there will be something far more fun and light hearted next week. We can still be friends. I don't judge you. You don't judge me. Deal.
I could try to explain exactly what Lent is, and why I observe it. But my friend JT postulated (I LOVE that word!) far more eloquently than I ever could. JT is the pastor at New City Church - the church we used to be a part of in Michigan…the church that we still love so dearly. He is the same man up front on Sundays as he is all week long - that is a rarity! He loves Jesus. He loves people. He also loves the Celtics, but that's a total side bar and completely irrelevant! New City Church is about making disciples…period. Come as you are. Leave completely changed. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, Michigan please stop by. I GUARANTEE you will be welcomed with open arms!
Anyway….I asked JT if I could post his words about Lent and I got the thumbs up! Yes!
Today is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a season of fasting as we anticipate the celebration of Christ's resurrection. Why should we fast during Lent?
First a little history: the regular observance of Lent is older than the regular observance of Christmas. Lent is so ancient that Irenaeus (born less than 20 years after the apostle John died) wrote about the various ways people fasted leading up to Easter. This makes Lent very, very old in the church. Our church fathers thought it was a good idea, but why should we?
The truth is God doesn't want your M&Ms or your coffee or your after-dinner snacks. Lent is a voluntary choice to give up something one enjoys, something that is good. It is a voluntary "suffering" that is intended to remind us of Jesus and his suffering for us. You might be wondering how giving up M&Ms or coffee in any way compares to the suffering of Jesus; it doesn't. Even if we crucified ourselves we would not truly be experiencing the suffering Jesus experienced, because Jesus endured God's wrath for our sin. We cannot mimic the suffering of Jesus—nor do we have to. His suffering will completely end our suffering.
Instead, fasting during Lent is a tool that is intended to help us focus on the final days of Jesus and what resurrection really means for us. This is why Lent is a 40-day fast that lasts 46 days: we do not fast on Sundays. Because each Sunday is a mini-Easter (and a celebration of the Lord's presence among us) the one who fasts breaks his fast for that day. If you give up M&Ms during Lent, enjoy them every Sunday, rejoicing that Jesus will one day end all suffering.
Lent is not really about giving up something, but remembering something. The resurrection of Jesus is what ends suffering. Lent isn't about showing God how serious we are or how disciplined we are. Lent is not about becoming more productive or breaking bad habits or forming good habits. It's not a "40 days to a new you!" Those things may happen, but Lent is a reminder of just how important resurrection is. As we look forward to our Easter celebration, let us remember our Lord's suffering and celebrate him for taking our place and ending our suffering. Let's do this by observing Lent.
Come, Lord Jesus.--
As you enter this season of Lent, I pray your hearts are right. And that you see...one day we won't have to endure this season of fasting anymore. Because one day…He is coming again!!
Wishing you an amazing weekend!