What is the season of Lent? Should you participate in it?

Growing up, I never heard the words Lent, or Ash Wednesday. I have heard of mardi gras but only in the crazy party kind of way. I didn’t grow up Catholic or with any practicing Catholic friends that I knew. So, as I became a Pastor and was around other pastoral and devout Christian friends with diverse backgrounds, I started to hear about Lent. In my studies, we touched on it but I never really studied it to the point of understanding for me. 
 
So, if you are like me and have had zero or very little experience with Lent, let me tell you what it is. Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter (Holy Week specifically.) It begins Ash Wednesday, which is the day after Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras was meant to be a day of indulgence prior to abstaining from  meat and/or other items for 40 days. This year, Ash Wednesday is March 6th. Lent ends the day before Good Friday on April 18th. Good Friday is April 19th the Friday immediately proceeding Easter (April 21st). Lent was meant to be a season of reflection and preparation before Easter arrives (we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus). The time period is symbolic to the time when Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness where he withdrew for 40 days. 
 
A question you may be asking is why do they call it Ash Wednesday? During Biblical times, through various stories you will see that when people are mourning or fasting they place Ash on their head. Those were referred to as Ashes of Repentance, or repentance ashes. Its an outward expression of repentance and believing the Gospel. So it is Ash Wednesday because it is the entering of a time of repentance, the season known as lent. Lent is called lent because of the word it derives from signifies the lengthening of days that is often occurring during this time. In other languages, such as German, it is known simply as fasting time. Or Spanish and French it is known as 40 days in their languages respectively.  
 
This year, unlike any other year, I have specifically felt called to observe lent. I have never done it. I have never fasted for that long. I always felt that celebrating it was too Catholic, and I am not a Catholic. The reason I believe I am feeling called to participate in lent this season is I feel I need a time of preparation for what God is going to do in my life and Citizens Church. We have seen God move in such mighty ways already, but we are so quick to forget what he has done. We are quick to go back to fearing and worrying about everything. I want this season to be an opening of my eyes, and an opening of my heart to God. Even more so than it is. I want to continually draw closer to him, and I have felt this nagging feeling over the last few months to participate in lent.  
 
So if lent is a 40 day time of fasting, what do they traditionally fast from? (too fast something means to abstain from) In the Catholic Church, they abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Friday’s during Lent. (Dairy, eggs and fish can still be eaten.) That is why you will see fast food restaurants that only seasonally have fish, will have it especially during this time of year. If you are especially devout, they recommend and encourage people to eat one full meal a day and fast the other two meals. You would still follow the first guideline but this would be an additional way to draw closer to God.
 
If you are feeling like me, like you need a time of preparation for what God is planning to do I challenge you to join me in fasting during lent. Even if you just feel you need to draw closer to God, join me in lent. I believe God honors our efforts, not just our results. What should you to fast from? What does God want you to fast from? What gets in the way of your relationship with him? What causes you to lust, covet, lie, cheat or steal? If you looooove Food, I challenge you to consider fasting a enjoyable meal time. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, you can’t just fast breakfast. It’s not a proper fast if you aren’t abstaining from something you enjoy. Fast from whatever is getting in your way if you can. If its social media, TV, food, soda, coffee, tea (any other beverage other than water) if you smoke, drink alcohol, pick something to fast from. If you have a sweet tooth fast from sweets. 
 
For me, I will be fasting two meals a day. I say this not to boast in my strength, but for accountability. Fasting two meals a day is something I have not done for more than four days before. I will now multiply that buy 10. I will need your prayers, and God’s help for sure! I ask that you join me in the fast and when you are challenged in what you are fasting from, no matter what it is, pray. Pray for strength, and pray for God to change your life for the better. Pray for God to use you to change someone’s else’s life. Pray that God continues to use and bless Citizens Church for his glory. 
 
Than you! Pastor Kevin. 
 
P.S.- If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. 

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