Why bother with Lent?

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, a time that Christians have used over the years to prepare for Easter. Lent is not kept by all Christians. That’s okay. There’s nowhere in the Bible that specifically forbids it or that promotes it. Whether or not you use Lent is up to you.

Traditionally, Lent is a time of reflection upon the sufferings of Jesus. It’s an occasion of more deliberate Bible reading, prayer, and repentance. Many people also use Lent as a way of giving up something in order to more deliberately focus on God. It’s a practical reminder of the Christian journey: the need to die to self that anticipates the new life on the other side.

We are so broken that it required God’s Son to become broken for us.

I’ve sometimes found it a challenge whether I should give up something for Lent. Some people give up food (whether it’s beer, or chocolate, or chips). Others give up things that are a regular feature of their day, like social media. Last year, a friend of mine gave up Facebook. She said that she found it liberating and enabled her to see again how Facebook doesn’t normally help her to follow Jesus.

If you choose to give up something, the important thing is that it’s not an occasion to draw attention to yourself, or what you’re giving up, or even to Lent itself. It’s an opportunity for you to draw closer in dependence on Jesus. In giving up something, maybe you can acknowledge that there are things that take you away from full devotion to Jesus.

What’s more important than the practices we adopt, is the heart attitude behind them. Contemplating Easter ought to empty us of any sense of religious pride, comparison with others, or self-righteousness. At Easter, we come to terms again with our own terrible need. We are so broken that it required God’s Son to become broken for us. The cross levels us all. But we are also so loved that God willingly gave us his Son, so we resolve once again, to live our lives for Him.

Vicar

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