02/26/2020 Lent begins....
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. This event is observed in the Methodist church. My home church and chosen denomination.
The last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Following the New Testament story, Jesus' crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, and at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
COMMIT TO FASTING FROM VAPING........
In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days; this is known as one's Lenten sacrifice. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Depending on the Christian denomination and local custom, Lent ends either on the evening of Maundy Thursday, or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. Regardless, Lenten practices are properly maintained until the evening of Holy Saturday.
---Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.
Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. It is commonly observed by many Christian denominations— Christians from many different theological persuasions choose to observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.
How Do You Observe Lent?
It differs from person to person and church to church, but some of the things Christians opt to do to observe Lent include:
- On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), some Christians mark their foreheads with ash as a symbol of sorrow and mourning over their sin. (See Job 42 for an example of ash used as a symbol of repentance.)
- Special worship services, or additions to regular worship services, that focus in various ways on man’s need for repentance. This often takes the form of extra Scripture readings and prayer.
- Some Christians choose to give up a habit or behavior during Lent as an exercise in prayerful self-denial. This might range from something as simple as not drinking soda during Lent to a full-blown program of fasting.
- Some Christians commit to a special devotional activity during Lent—for example, daily Scripture reading, regular prayer for a specific person or topic throughout Lent, or volunteer work in their community.
The choice to observe Lent is a personal one—the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter. There’s no requirement to observe it, nor should you feel guilted into participating. However, millions of Christians around the world do observe Lent each year; if you’ve never done so, why not give it a try? Whether you observe Lent in a small or major way, you’ll be amazed at what happens when you devote a part of each day to reflecting on Jesus Christ and God’s Word.
Time spent reflecting on Jesus Christ is time well spent!
Then, the meaning of “giving up something” came home to me several years ago when a college girl from a church I once pastored posted on Facebook that she began her Lent with the commitment to sacrifice sugar for the 40-day Lenten season. A couple weeks after that, she posted something that suddenly turned on the light for me. She said, in essence,
“I am really craving sugar right now. But I pray that my craving for God would become as strong as my craving for sugar.”
That was it.
When we enjoy something a lot and we choose to give it up (sacrifice it) for 40 days, it creates a craving or a deep desire for what we are missing. During Lent, this sacrifice reminds us to crave God, to have a deep desire for God more than we have for that which we have given up. It reminds us how much we want to know him and how much we need him in our lives.
As Lent leads up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we are reminded how much God craves for and desires us. God sent his one and only son to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross for our sins (which keep us separated from God) and forgiving our sins. As our sins deserve death, Jesus died for our sins. The resurrection of Jesus on the third day validated what Jesus came to do. And because he conquered death forever, we can be assured that our gift of eternal life is also real.
“Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose unless, by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart’s deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him-- in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph, we find our truest joy.”