“As you order your affairs today, feast on a sausage or two in celebration of Jesus Christ's completely sufficient work years ago.”
(Ash Wednesday social media post from a pastor friend of mine)
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
This past Wednesday marked the start of Lent, a forty day period leading up to Easter in which
many Christians focus on repentance, Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, and his journey to
the cross. Historically, the season has been marked by fasting, culminating in an Easter feast.
I first heard of Lent in Elementary school overhearing Roman Catholic classmates mentioning
their having given up soda or chocolate for the season. In fact, Roman Catholics are officially
required to observe Lent as a form of penance. Thus, my pastor friend’s deliciously cheeky
quote about resting in the finished work of Christ as opposed to embracing the legalistic
observance of a penitential season that the Bible doesn’t command.
But must Lent be a legalistic burden?
At Trinity/ Redemption, we tend toward the view that while the Bible doesn’t require us to
celebrate the church calendar, that nevertheless doing so can be helpful. Just as we find it
edifying to mark the season of Advent and to celebrate Christmas and Easter each year, it can
be helpful to set aside a regular season of sustained self-examination and repentance, even
perhaps marked by some sort of fasting.
Jesus doesn’t require us to observe Lent nor any specific fasting regimen. But self-examination
and fasting are indeed biblical spiritual disciplines and it can be helpful to freely choose to
observe a particular season each year to focus upon them.
So whether for you the present time is “Lent,” or just “The weeks before Easter,” you are free to
use this season, under the grace of God, as a time to refocus on your need for repentance and
renewal as you follow the crucified Savior. What do you have to lose?