Whether Lent is a cherished tradition of yours or is something you knew little about until now, there’s a lot we can learn by practicing it to enrich our faith. Lent is a season of spiritual preparation for celebrating Jesus’s death and resurrection. The idea of setting aside time to prepare for a special event actually comes from the Gospels. Jesus himself spent forty days in the wilderness preparing for the good works his Father had planned for him to do.
I know I definitely need to slow down to really appreciate the gravity of Jesus’ suffering. Too many Easters have flown by without due attention on my part.
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. But why the ashes? As this video explains, it’s an ancient symbol of repentance and humility. Even if this symbol isn’t part of your tradition, all of us need to draw on the Spirit’s self-control to deepen our commitment to Christ (Galatians 5.22-23). During Lent, millions of Christians of varied backgrounds choose to go without something they enjoy. In this way, they identify more closely with Jesus, who gave up so much for them.
One of my friends is giving up Netflix. Another is giving up coffee (ouch!). For me, it’s going to be my Facebook newsfeed.
Jesus has shown us that sacrifice means carrying burdens and taking on tasks we don’t really like. So last year, my colleague decided she would “leave no dirty dishes in the sink at the end of the day.
Another big part of Lent is almsgiving. That could mean taking what you’d spend at Starbucks and giving it to someone in need. Or it could mean increasing the percentage of your tithe. If money is tight, you could offer the gift of your time to encourage or help someone out.
Prayer is the third major part of Lent. The time we would have spent on our usual indulgences or pleasures is then spent relying on God, worshipping and praising him, and taking our needs and burdens to him.
These next 40 days could become some of the best you’ve ever spent. God wants to reveal himself to you more profoundly. So what do you say? Will you give Lent a try?