Yes, it is February 25th, but that wasn't what I was asking. Today is the first day of the Lenten season, which will last forty days, through April 11th, the day before Easter, the day of Christ's Resurrection. Many of you know, I was raised in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am very proud of those roots. My ancestry goes back generations in the church, all the way back to its origin in Scotland. And, my parents were both raised Presbyterian, so it scales my genealogy on both sides of my family.
So, when I married a Southern Baptist man, and we decided to become part of the First Baptist Church in College Station, I was conflicted to say the least. That's an entirely different post, and I will get to it someday. The point is, I had to give up some of the observances and traditions I was so accustomed to in the FPC because they weren't part of the FBC.
One of these customs is observing the Lenten season. (There are some Baptist churches that do observe Lent, but the church, as a whole, does not). Most people associate Lent with Roman Catholicism, but this is not entirely accurate. So, I did some research and found several explanations of Lent, what it means, and who observes it/doesn't observe it and why.
I love the ancient tradition and the implications of the Lenten season. I like the idea of observing, just as our Christian predecessors did, the act of giving something up (in their case it was food in the form of fasting), for forty days. I always saw this as a way to sacrifice SOMETHING of myself, as Jesus sacrificed ALL of himself. I am not equating the two, mind you.
So, I am posting below the information I found and I hope it helps you to better understand, if you don't already, what Lent is all about and how it can be a time of personal growth.
Also, I am going to join a Lent Reading Plan on Biblegateway.com. It is a daily reading from the Bible (40 days total), starting in Matthew and reading through the Gospels and ending in 1 Corinthians. I am excited about starting my days reflecting on these passages in anticipation of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday! I encourage you to join, too!
The information below was taken from Chris Bonts's blog, senior pastor at a Baptist church in Auburn, Alabama.
Isn't Lent a Roman Catholic thing? The answer to this question is Yes and No. Yes, Roman Catholics observe Lent, but so do Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and Lutherans. Just because the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) observes Lent, however, does not mean that we are somehow sacrificing the gospel or identifying with the RCC with our observance. Lent, as a church observance, actually preceded the formation of the RCC by at least 200 years. The early Christian theologian Irenaeus (who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of the disciple John), wrote of the early church's observance of Lent in the mid-second century. At that time Lent did not last forty days, but it was a pre-Easter time of preparation and focus for the church. Granted, Baptists have not traditionally observed Lent (this reality is owed to our free church tradition and general eschewal of all things liturgical), but that does not mean that we should not or cannot take an extended period of time to prepare for our Easter celebrations.
The Who, What, When, and Where of Lent When Lent first began to be observed in the church, it was common practice to baptize new Christians once a year. The baptisms took place on Easter. All new Christians were discipled (catechized) from the time they trusted in Christ until Easter when they were Baptized. The early churches, in an effort to help these young Christians grasp the significance of both their baptism and Easter celebrations, required them to fast for forty hours prior to their baptism. The fast was then broken after their baptism when the church celebrated its Easter feast. Gradually the entire church began to observe Lent as a way to prepare for their church's Easter celebrations. The length of time gradually was extended from forty hours to forty days. The number forty was intended to remind the Christian of the forty years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and the forty days Jesus spent fasting alone in the desert prior to the public launch of his ministry that would carry him to the cross. The Israelites wandered because of their disobedience; Jesus purposely sought out the desert to fast and pray in preparation for his ministry, a ministry that would ultimately reconcile us to God the Father. The observance of Lent has remained forty days since that time.
But Why Lent? Just because we have answered the question of the origins of Lent does not necessarily mean that we should observe it. We first need to answer the question of why. There are two reasons why I desire for CrossRoad Church to observe Lent. The primary reason has to do with the original intent of the observance. The early church asked new Christians to observe Lent to impress upon them the significance of their redemption and the celebration of Easter. Eventually it became important enough that all Christians were asked to observe it. I want the members of CrossRoad Church to use the next few weeks as a time to accomplish the same objective in their lives. That is why we have chosen the specific Bible studies and sermon emphases we will be following in the next few weeks. The second reason why I desire for CrossRoad Church to observe Lent is because I want our folks to grasp the fact that we stand in continuity with early church and all those that have been redeemed by Christ in the past 2,000 years. The church did not start the day we were redeemed, it started the day of Pentecost. I want our church to develop a sense of their spiritual heritage.
3 years ago