What is Lent?

Traditionally, Lent is a period of fasting or giving something up that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. This year, in 2022, it starts tomorrow (Wednesday 2nd March). It was, so I read, established as a practice as early as the fourth century ¹.

Some people give up chocolate, watching t.v., smoking, drinking, sugar, social media…you get the picture. It is, essentially, a six-week period of self-discipline.

But why?

Lent began as a period of time to remember the value of repentance. Back in the Old Testament, repentance and fasting was common:

“Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud and bitter voice.”

(Esther 4.1)

“So I turned my attention to the Lord God to implore him by prayer and requests, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

(Daniel 9.3)

Sadly, some nowadays will use the season of Lent to try and earn God’s blessing. Paul wrote to the Romans and said that God’s blessings can never be earned, even if you give up chocolate for six weeks:

“…if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!’

(Romans 5.17, note ‘gift’).

As New Covenant believers ² we are free to observe Lent if we wish (Romans 14.5-6) but there is no obligation. Observing and not observing Lent will neither gain nor lose you favour with God (1 Corinthians 8.8): He already loves you to the greatest possible extent and has proven it in the most spectacular way possible (John 3.16). If you feel like you need a period of time working towards Easter to focus on what is really important in your life, then consider observing Lent this year. I will be.

We are free to observe Lent if we wish, and if you would like to observe Lent with me this year, send me a message and we can observe it together. 

¹ – https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-origins-of-lent-155622

² – https://open.spotify.com/episode/6V9yDNQgFUdXfIMN1CgeJC?si=GmAyX2ZBQQ6LiCiCVpU0yQ

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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