Lent begins a next Wednesday, February 10 on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter on March, 27. When we observe the season of Lent we are keeping a tradition that began in the 3rd century among the earliest followers of Jesus. In the early church Lent was observed as a time of preparation before baptism for new converts which was patterned after the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted. It was also a time when those who had broken relationship with the church were reconciled to the body and restored to full communion. Soon all Christians began to observe Lent as season for repentance and spiritual formation in preparation for Easter.
Even if you haven’t been a part of a church that observes the season you’ve likely heard of people giving up things for Lent. Or you may know about Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, the final day of feasting before the 40-day Lenten fast begins. Historically, Christians have fasted many different types of foods. It was common to fast oil and dairy products which is why people in England traditionally used up all the “fat” on the Tuesday before Lent by making pancakes. Many Christians also fast meat during Lent but fish is allowed according to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, which is why you see advertisements for fish sandwiches at many fast food restaurants now.
It’s easy to pick up the message that Lent is only about fasting but in this season we want to emphasize that it all is about Jesus. For Christians it is the annual reminder in the Church calendar that we are called to forsake everything else in order to follow Jesus. We examine ourselves in light of his commands and repent of everything that is that leads us astray. We return to his side as faithful followers. And we are conformed to his image as we fast, pray, and give through the Lenten season.
Follow the Restoration blog through the week leading up to the beginning of Lent as we post resources, guidance for fasting, praying and giving, and other ways to prepare you and your family. And plan to worship with us on February 10, Ash Wednesday at 7pm at Slate.