Lent stands as one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar. Although it has changed a bit over the years, its purpose has remained the same: self-examination and repentance, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter. We find this tradition beginning very early in the Church with the church father Irenaus of Lyons (130-200AD). At the Council of Nicea in 325AD, leaders discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting. While it’s a bit unclear whether its original intent was solely for new Christians preparing for Baptism, it soon encompassed the whole Church. And although the tradition has varied over the years in how exactly the 40 days are counted, the observance was both strict and serious.
Will you consider joining us as we journey through the gospels during the season of Lent? Get the readings delivered straight to your inbox each day by clicking here, and click here to learn more about how you can connect with others around Lent through our services, and as we visit the Art Institute.
Why Practice Lent?
A note from Jackson Crum:
Will you be celebrating Lent this year? Should you? I’d like to take a moment and share with you why I practice Lent and the significant role I think it can play in our lives.
Lent lasts for 40 days and begins on what is called Ash Wednesday. It continues to Maundy Thursday or the Saturday before Easter. Traditionally Lent calls for the observer to fast from something for those 40 days. This is what I have been doing the past few years. I choose to give something up that I enjoy, something I look forward to in daily life. I use this fasting as a way to remind me of what is coming – Good Friday and Easter. I don’t want to casually stroll into these days. I don’t want to allow these days to catch me off-guard because I have been too busy to prepare myself.
Whatever it is I am fasting from I use the craving for that desire to prompt me to pray. In the past I gave up diet soda one year and deserts another – NO EASY FEAT for me! I like to use that time to remind myself of what took place that bitter Friday and that glorious Sunday – what it means to me as a follower of Jesus – how my life is different because of the work of Jesus. I have found that the bitterness of Good Friday and victory in Easter have meant more to me when I have fasted. Those events taste all the more bitter and sweet through consistent reflection and prayer. I invite you to join me this year to fast together! The particular thing we’re fasting from isn’t as important as what we actually do with our cravings.
Lastly, we’d like to encourage you over the next several weeks to join us in reading through the gospels for this Lenten season – to pour over the gospel story of our Savior that it might stir all of us to deeper affection and devotion to him. I pray God will use these 40 days to point us to our crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Will you consider joining us as we journey through the gospels during the season of Lent? Have the readings delivered straight to your inbox each day by clicking here.