What is Lent?

As we are now in the season of Lent, one can legitimately ask, ‘What is Lent?’ and ‘How does one ‘do’ Lent?’ What are the expectations of Christians during this season?

Well, the answer to these questions depends, to some extent, on one’s churchmanship, denomination, or the like. In essence, Lent is the season of the Christian Year when we focus on simple living, prayer, repentance and fasting in order to grow closer to God. Lent is a good time to take ‘an inventory’ of the state of one’s soul. What are our spiritual shortcomings? Do we have any hidden ‘idols’ in our life? What is keeping us from following the will of God with all our hearts? Honestly addressing these questions is potentially a risky and confronting place to go. However, as we approach Holy week, such an exercise can be invaluable to our ability to embrace, perhaps for the first time, the deep significance of the Easter message.

“But,” I hear you honestly say, “I am not a religious person and find it hard to think about the message of Lent and Easter.” Honesty is always a good starting point. We can move forward from there! So what then are some practical things that we can do to make the Lenten journey?  There are a myriad of things. These are some simple suggestions that may work for you.

  • Try an “electronic” fast. Give up TV, Facebook, texting, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day or part of a day every week. Use that time to read about and reflect upon the Easter message.
  • Pray. This is not as alien or scary as it sounds. Simply talk to God as you would a friend.  It may grow from there. If that is difficult, find some prayers that have been written for us. These can be found in books or online.
  • Read.  Read the Bible or an edifying spiritual book. 
    More traditionally, give up something (fasting) such as chocolate, soft drinks, fast food, alcohol or smoking. Again, the list could be endless. However if you choose to do something like this, please be sensible. Moderation, even in something like fasting, is a wise thing.
  • Be grateful - grateful to God as well as to and for others. Learn more about spiritual practice of gratitude.

Then we can become slightly more challenging!

  • Forgive someone who you think doesn't deserve it, (maybe even yourself!)

Then, when you get to the appropriate spiritual space, confess your sins to God. When we get to the point where we can honestly do this, the wonderful message of the Easter Cross is that:

“If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just
will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9 (NRSV)

May God bless you as you journey through Lent.

Reverend Dave