I gave up Lent for Lent! Okay, not really. But that’s how I sometimes answer friends who are engaged in a Lenten fast.
Though I like to think of myself as pretty open to fellowshipping with others not in my Baptist tradition, nevertheless, Lent has been something I’ve been hesitant in which to participate. I guess my hesitation has been rooted in my adverse feelings toward Roman Catholicism; however, to be sure, there is a “whole big church-world” out there of followers of Jesus, including a variety of denominations, who observe the season called Lent.
So, while I’m personally not observing a Lenten fast, I am, however, very appreciative of the spirit behind the season! Growing up in Baptist life I remember Easter as a Sunday of fun as well as worship. It was a time for Easter Egg hunts, Easter baskets, family gatherings, and nicely-pressed Springtime clothing adorned while attending a celebratory worship service.
What I like about Lent is that it’s an intentional effort to mark out an entire season of reflection leading up to Good Friday and then Easter Sunday. It puts a person in an extended time of thinking about the Gospel story.
In a Lenten fast, an observer reflects on how they are sinners and how their time on earth is temporary; after all, from dust we came and to dust we shall return. Lenten observance helps a person more acutely sense a dependence and love of lesser things. It provides a corrective, bringing lesser loves into a secondary place of prominence.
This is a part of the purpose of the Lenten fast – intentionally neglecting the use of something or things that are ordinarily okay to do or enjoy. By this Lenten fast, priorities are realigned, Jesus is worshipped and anticipation of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday builds to a crescendo.
I keep the spirit of the Lenten season, even if I don’t officially participate in a Lenten fast. One way I am leading others to prepare for Easter this year is by encouraging our church to collectively read a book focused on the cross. This will start the week of March 2 and will end March 27, Good Friday. There are five readings a week: Monday-Friday and then a church-wide gathering to discuss the reading on four Sunday nights, March 8-29.
This will bring us right up to a special Good Friday service on April 3 and then a big Resurrection Celebration on Easter Sunday, April 5.
How are you preparing for Easter?