The Lenten Season and Why it is Important
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
The upcoming season of Lent is upon us. What is Lent? Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Many people on the last night before Lent eat rich, fatty foods before they start the ritual of fasting for the Lenten season. The day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday. Shrove is from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” In our Christian religion during the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites itself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert and in spiritual preparation for the celebration of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. This is a time to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs we need to repent for. both individually and in society, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth we especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with. It is a very special time for Christians to reflect on Jesus Christ and ALL He has done for us.
Traditionally during the 40 days of Lent, people will deprive themselves or give up something for the duration. This could be fasting, refraining from certain foods and indulgences, not watching TV, or a variety of things that each person determines on a personal level. Have you ever committed to the traditional observance of Lent? Perhaps you committed to give up alcoholic beverages or chocolate sweets, or even meat and fish, did you succeed? Was it hard? Another common way of observing Lent is by increasing attendance to Church Services and/or a commitment to regular Prayer above and beyond a person’s normal or previous level of Prayer. Again I ask was it hard? Did you succeed in accomplishing your Lenten goals?
A recent study by the Lifeway Research group found that 76% of Americans do not observe lent in any fashion, and of the 24% that do observe Lent I would imagine a large percentage may fall short of their goals. So why do we often fail to meet our Lenten goals and more importantly why do 76% of people in the U.S. not even try? I believe the answer lies in a problem in our focus; we often are focused on ourselves and what we will be giving up when we should be focusing on God and what we stand to gain. By forsaking indulgences of this world during Lent, we are able to walk closer to the footsteps of Jesus, it sharpens our minds and our hearts to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us all, and helps to build within us a strength and determination to be more “Christ like” in our thoughts and actions. It is not easy, to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, and it is not supposed to be. Consider the words from Luke 9:23 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” And also Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
So this Lenten season, ask yourself, “Do I want to accept the challenge to become closer and stronger in Christ?” I hope that you say yes, and I hope that your Lenten goals, no matter what they are, are successful! And if you should stumble and fall short of your goal, don’t lose heart, dust yourself off and get back up because you are not alone on this difficult journey of life, he is with you always!