Lent Post 2: What is Lent?

After writing the first post, I realized that while I knew that Lent lasted 40 days and that it involved fasting, I did not really know anything else about it. Not knowing why you are doing something is a dangerous place to be. In the bible, the pharisees often did things that were “religious” without knowing the reasoning behind it. They kept themselves clean as God’s law required on the outside, but Jesus called them dead and unclean on the inside because they missed the point of the law (Matthew 23:27-28). They took God’s law to the extreme. They were so focused on doing no work on the sabbath day of rest that they got angry with Jesus for healing someone on the sabbath instead of rejoicing in the miracle. They missed the point of the sabbath. I don’t want my lack of knowledge of Lent to make me like the Pharisees, so please join me as I learn more about it.

Lent first started with the early Christians. The first written account of a Lent observance is from 325 AD (Fairchild, 2018). Lent lasts for 40 days to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert before he was tempted, as well as the 40 years that the Israelites wandered through the wilderness before reaching the promised land (Fairchild, 2018). Most Christians actually celebrate for the 46 day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday (Fairchild, 2018). Sundays are not counted in the 40 days as they are considered like a “mini-Easter” celebration (United Methodist Church, 2019). The Eastern Orthodox church Lent lasts for 40 consecutive days and starts on Clean Monday, seven weeks before Easter (Fairchild, 2018). It ends on Lazarus Saturday, eight days before Easter (Fairchild, 2018).

Regardless of when it is celebrated, Lent is a time to fast, repent of sins, and pray to prepare for Jesus’ resurrection on Easter (United Methodist Church, 2019). It is a time for self-examination, a time to refocus on God. As a person fasts, that fasting is supposed to give them more time to spend with God. If you fast from food, you can spend the time you would normally be eating praying and seeking God. For Lent I am fasting from going on Facebook multiple times per day, so during the time that I would normally go on Facebook, I have been reading the bible and praying. God spoke to me the other day and said “If you want more of me, you need to make more time for me.” Lent is the perfect time to make more time for God.

Not all Christians celebrate Lent and in my opinion, that is OK. Lent is not a holiday in the bible, but a man-made tradition, much like the Pharisees’ tradition of no work on the sabbath. Is it bad to celebrate Lent? No. I think fasting during Lent can help bring a person closer to God and is a great way to deepen your faith. But as you celebrate Lent, make sure that you are not looking down on other Christians who decide not to celebrate. Looking down on others for not following religious practices is something that the Pharisees would do, and no one wants to be like that brood of vipers!

References:

Fairchild, M. (2018). Learn about Lent and how the Lenten season is observed. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-lent-700774

The United Methodist Church. (2019). What is Lent and why does it last forty days? http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-is-lent-and-why-does-it-last-forty-days

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