Lent–What's it all about?
Lent – taken from the German or Dutch word Lenz; known as the season between winter and summer; a time of 40 days before Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter.
The Christian Church called the season before Easter lent. It would have been awfully confusing to tell people that the church season of Lent was in lent.
So to ease the confusion somewhat the term “spring” was introduced many centuries ago. It literally referred to the springing up of plants and other life as the temperatures warmed up.
Lent in the Christian tradition is that time when we are charged to reflect on our lives and a take stock of who we are. It is a time for preparation for Easter, a time of rededication of the faithful and a time to teach those who are new to Christianity about the faith and to prepare them for baptism.
This is the time in the church year when I am reminded – and not all that gently – to recommit myself to a lifestyle that is essential to me being a faithful Christian. The liturgy that we Anglicans follow on Ash Wednesday spells it out very plainly.
We are invited to “observe a holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.”
Some of the items in this list aren’t all that onerous… especially praying and reading the word of God.
It’s the self-examination, penitence, and fasting with which most of us struggle. The question that arises is how can I possibly do all of this?
If we are intentional about observing Lent we will find ourselves being more fully engaging with the path that Jesus walked as he spent 40 days in the wilderness. That time in the wilderness gave him the chance to do all of the things that we are called to do in Lent.
It was the time Jesus needed to prepare for his ministry with the people and ultimately to prepare for his death and resurrection. It is our time to prepare for our own ministries – whatever they might be – and to enter fully into the joy of the resurrection.
So, my friends, are you up for the challenge??
P.S. To all of you out there who get to celebrate on the actual date of your birth, Happy Birthday!