Today is the first day of Lent. Over the past few years, more and more Protestants have started participating in this season of expectancy. That excites me!
If you’re familiar with Lent, skip to the end. This next part might bore you, but I want you to see the resources listed at the bottom.
If you’re not familiar with Lent, let me offer a truly amateur introduction.
I didn’t grow up Catholic and, honestly, had never heard of Lent or Ash Wednesday until college. We did have a Catholic church in town, and I vaguely remember friends mentioning bans on gum and other frivolities, but no one ever explained it as important or religious. It was just something quirky they did at the big white church, which I believed (in my pre-salvation adolescence) was the same as every other church in town.
If you’re like me, having lived in a relatively homogeneous, non-liturgical faith community, you may be slightly out of the loop, too.
What is Lent? Lent begins 40 weekdays before Easter. Traditionally, it has been a time set aside for fasting, prayer and preparation. Think of it like Advent, except for the Resurrection instead of the Nativity. It’s a wonderful practice.
How do you celebrate Lent? Usually people give up something for Lent. It doesn’t need to be a food fast, necessarily, but rather anything that, when denied, can show your commitment to God and faith. The purpose is to focus on Christ and the price He paid for our salvation, so many pick something that will assist them toward that end. Lately, it has become very popular to give up Facebook or TV.
(I suspect book sales sky-rocket this time of year. Also, has anyone else noticed that more babies are born in November than any other month? Interesting.)
40 Days of … Yes?
I mentioned earlier how it excites me that more churches are doing this. Ritual deprivation? It sounds sadistic, huh? Not really! Because the focus is not about denying self and giving up comforts. The focus is on Christ and saying “Yes!” to Him.
You can give up all you want for as long as you live, but none of it will make a whit of difference if you refuse to say Yes to Christ.
So, while you discipline yourselves from your vice of choice, be sure to fill your mind with the Christ of life. Here are a few readers that might help.
- Knowing Jesus Better: This Lenten devotional, written by Mark D. Roberts, is available FREE through The High Calling. Simply insert your information, and you can download the .pdf file with no further obligation.
- 40 Days of Yes: This is hosted by CMS, Church Mission Society. You can view the calendar and all readings online.
- Devotions for Lent: The Mosaic Bible includes readings and devotions organized by the Christian calendar. This short ebook provides the reading from that Bible for the time of Lent. It’s not free like the other two listed here, but definitely worth the $2.99.
I’m sure there are dozens of others with various focuses, but these are three that I recommend.
Your Turn: How do you prepare for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection?