Have you ever observed Lent? Until a few years ago, I had not.
Having grown up in a tradition which didn’t observe the church calendar, the closest I ever got to Lent was hearing the Catholics in my classes discuss what they were giving up. Since that was all they ever said about it, I thought that the point was to make the faithful suffer. That didn’t sound like the God I knew, so I dismissed it as a waste of time.
Just a few years ago, however, I was with two good friends as they discussed their plan to attend an Ash Wednesday service. I heard myself asking if I could join them, maybe out of curiosity or my need for something deeper in my life. I cannot remember what motivated my question, but for the first time I observed Lent.
Why participate in Lent?
According to the Wikipedia, “The Lenten season is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”
So how should you observe Lent?
There is no should. Find ways that best engage you.
How do I observe Lent then?
Each year I read a daily devotional designed for the season. They call me to look at my life and repent of the things that are consuming me more than God is. Bookstores offer a large variety in both book and e-reader forms. The stories normally offer an online preview of the first few pages and maybe a day or two of the daily readings. Many churches or ministries offer free online daily readings, which I have done as well.
Lent is traditionally a time to give above and beyond regular giving. Giving makes me thankful for the ability to share and care for others, so I ask God to point out a place or opportunity to do that. I generally give money, but serving is also a wonderful way to give.
And yes, I do fast from something, but not because I have to suffer, but because I want to focus more on the life and death of the Son of God rather than always thinking of me. The difficulty of fasting reminds me of all that Jesus gave up for me. My past choices have ranged from various foods to online games. I’m thinking of social media as one option this year.
If you’ve never tried it and want a way to draw closer to God for a limited time, I highly recommend it. Contact me with questions.
So what has worked for you during Lent?