On Wednesday this week we begin the season of Lent. The word “Lent” is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to lengthen” and refers to a season of the church year when the days become longer similar to our season of spring. The forty days of Lent (Sundays aren’t counted) are probably symbolic of the 40 days’ fast of Moses, Elijah, and especially our Lord himself. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at noon on Saturday before Easter.

The observance of Lent probably originated in the 4th Century and was a time of fasting, self-examination, alms-giving, strict attendance at worship and an abstaining from festivities. The first break in Lenten observance in Europe may have occurred in 1572 when Zwingli sided with certain Zurich printers who insisted that they had to have something more invigorating to eat than fish on Fridays to carry out their duties. In the years since there has been less and less emphasis on the original disciplines of the season. Unfortunately the pre-Lenten festivals such as  Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) have had an increased emphasis on self-indulgence with drunkenness, immorality, and destruction being wide spread.

So what are we to do with Lent? If I interpret the New Testament correctly, the whole life of the believer is to be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the important question is not “What shall I give up for Lent?” but rather “Am I filled with the Holy Spirit?” or “How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

That being said, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we do away with the celebration of Lent. Don’t Spirit-filled Christians need to look into their personal lives? Of course we do. We all become careless. We all tend to forget our obligations and to ignore those people we should be remembering and helping. All of us need a fresh look at the cross. In other words we need to be filled again and again with God’s Spirit. So whether we decide to give something up for Lent or to do something extra for Lent, may our actions help us to become more like Jesus through the working and leading of the Holy Spirit.

Have a blessed Lenten Season,
Pastor Rick

The RCA’s website has some great resources for families to use during Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. View them here!

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