By Erin Bird,
According to Wikipedia, Lent is “the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.” Having not grown up in a traditionally liturgical church, Lent was not something I observed. In fact, I had a fairly low opinion of Lent as I was growing up. Why?
Because I saw my classmates, who were part of churches that did observe Lent, act incredibly hypocritically during the 40 days. They would either:
- give up things that cost them nothing (like the kid who gave up popcorn – even though he had braces and couldn’t eat popcorn),
- or claim to give up something, but indulge in secret (like the girl who told me with a shoulder shrug she gave up soda while drinking a Mt. Dew),
- or would complain every hour about their self-denial of chocolate or television.
Therefore, I saw no value in Lent.
But the longer I follow Jesus, the more value I see in observances like Lent. Taking time to intentionally seek God by giving up things in this world reminds us that HE is most important in our lives, and it can lead us to deeper worship and dependence upon Him. As we’ll see in a week and a half in the conclusion to our Following Jesus series, Colossians 3:1-2 says,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
This is why we, as a church family, did something like Lent in January when we did the 21 Days of Fasting and Prayer. And we’ll probably do similar things in the future.
A Lenten Idea
So let me give you an idea. Even though Lent officially began Feb 14, you can still observe Lent. Why not take these next two and a half weeks to prepare your heart to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday? You could:
- give something up to help “set your mind on things above.”
- find a Bible reading plan or pick a book to read (like this one) that will help you “seek the things that are above.”
- or use some of the prayers from this Lent Guide to help you daily connect with your Creator.
It is never a waste of time to seek after Jesus wholeheartedly, willingly setting aside something in this world to go after that which is of greater value. So consider observing Lent for the next couple of weeks to make our Easter Worship Gatherings more glorious in your heart!