Wednesday is upon us today, and so Lent begins - a
season with which many evangelicals are fairly
has been celebrated for 1400 years. Traditionally
it has been a time when the Church has taken ash
(from the burnt fronds of the previous year's Palm
Sunday) and marked the foreheads of worshippers as a
sign of their repentance of sin. And then the 40 days of
is a liturgical season that possibly goes back to 325 AD
in its origin. The word "lent" simply means "Spring" (as
in the season). It has traditionally been a season of
fasting to re-enact the 40 days of temptation that Jesus
endured (Matt 4.2ff). The fast is finally broken with
the celebration of Easter Sunday, truly a resurrection
experience for each believer who has "died" to something
for the season.
not going to find Ash Wednesday or Lent in the New
Testament. Jesus did not institute them specifically and
Paul didn't write about them. But the spiritual practice
perhaps deserves a resurgence in our time, when sin is
downplayed and self-denial is ignored.
come from a wonderful church tradition called the
Restoration Movement. Our forebears in the early 1800s
(Britain and the USA) embraced various mottos such as
"No creed but Christ" and they would perhaps be
suspicious of my suggestion today. Things liturgical
have been viewed as "things superficial" or "matters of
the head not the heart." Yet, the Church throughout the
centuries - in its finest moments - has always been
guided by men and women who saw value in symbolism and
tradition ... a tradition merely being a thing "handed
a culture of excess, instant gratification, and
self-affirmation the notions of "repentance" and
"restraint" are not popular. Besides, 40 days is a long
time. Nearly seven weeks of "deprivation" (Sundays are
excluded), is a real commitment. But isn't faith
just that? A real commitment to dying and living with
Christ, and a real commitment to dealing actively
and seriously with sin?
believers have fasted (chocolate, sweets, meat, fish,
dairy products, eggs, television, whatever) so that they
might have all the greater celebration on Easter Sunday
of "resurrection" life and freedom.
may not be your "cup of tea". That's fine. But as
leaders in the Kingdom, how are we guiding people to
repentance, restraint, and resurrection? The outer
forms have potential, if utilized wisely, to produce
serious inner transformation.
ancient annual event - somewhat overshadowed by the
hedonism of Mardi Gras and Carnival yesterday - is a
systematic way to press hard after God. What prompts you
to repenatnce and restraint?
each of us find ways to "die daily" (1 Cor 15.31),
to be "crucified with Christ" (Gal 2.20), and to deepen
our walk with God.