Lent is a season in the church year that as the years pass becomes less and less of a tradition in American Christianity. And that’s a shame because it can be a very special season.
Lent started at the Council of Nicea in or around 325AD. It was set as a 40 day fast to remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before the beginning of His public ministry. In the mainline denominational churches it has always be an important time in the church year.
Sadly in my time it has dissolved, in many cases, into a time for giving up chocolate or soda, but that diminishes it original purpose. Lent was to be a time of fasting and introspection. Fasting (the going without food for a period of time) is seen as something that heightens our awareness about ourselves.
And awareness about our sinfulness and brokenness is vital to the idea of Lent. Too often we are unaware of our sins and our brokenness and this leads to additional damage to ourselves and those around us.
Lent can be a time of great spiritual growth, but if we reduce it to giving up or fats or sweets we will never see that growth. I advocate instead to take up something more. More prayer, more Bible Study, or introduce the practice of fasting into your life.
This is just a short primer on Lent. Even though we are almost half way through it, it’s not too late to begin.