We are in the midst of the Lenten season. My church didn't practice Lent when I was growing up; so my view was that Lent was just a Catholic observance. In recent years, our church movement has initiated Focus 40, which is a 40-day emphasis on prayer and fasting leading up to Easter.
Over the years, when I heard Catholic folks talk about "giving up" something for Lent, I always wondered why they were doing it--was it ritual--or was it heartfelt and life changing? You often hear "I can't eat meat on Fridays." And the weekly "Friday Fish Fry" down the street is there to fill that void. But why? Why can't you eat meat? Why are people doing it? Because the church says you're supposed to? Or does it have deeper meaning for you? Why are you doing what you do for Lent?
I stumbled across something in blogland that intrigued me. I found a blog series by Pastor Phil Ressler called 40 Things to Give Up for Lent. I decided to subscribe to his daily posts, hoping that they would add some meaning to Lent for me. These posts have challenged me and caused me to think and question what I'm about. (You can read the story behind this series here.)
In my research on Lent, I also found some good thoughts from Ann Voskamp:
Okay… Lent. It’s the preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy. Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice...
Lent isn't about forfeiting as much as it's about formation. We renounce to be reborn; we let go...It’s about this: We break away to become...
Don’t think of lent as about working your way to salvation. Think of it as working out your salvation....
Why doing Lent is what we need — because it leads us to Christ:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
And last, but by no means the least, this passage in Isaiah addresses
True Fasting: Isaiah 58.
So, what about Lent? Do you practice it--and if so, why?