The practice of lent goes back to the 4th century, 325 actually, so no, it is not mentioned in the bible…but…(don’t you just love(sarcastically) a but when someone seems to agree with you and then turns a corner)…the practices spoken of with lent are scriptural, just not called lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter. Why 40 days? It symbolizes Jesus fasting in the desert to prepare him for saving us. So now people associate lent with fasting from food.
From what I can surmise, in 325, Emperor Constantine and the Nicaea Church held the first Church council and created the Nicene Christian Traditions which is based on Christian ideology. And Lent was part of those traditions. In the 5th century the church ideology split, then it split again in the 11th century with the catholic church, then again in the 16th century with the Protestant reformation. I say all that historical gibberish to show how different we all do God, Jesus and church. It doesn’t make us right or wrong in how we do it as long as we truly follow scripture. To me you can boil down religion into two questions – Who Is God & Jesus to you and what are you going to do with that belief and information. The way you prioritize that information is the reflection of your heart.
If you look at lent’s true purpose, it is an inward reflection of your Christian ways. What am I doing that has become 1st in my life instead of Christ being 1st in my life. The second chapter of Joel explains how desperate the Israelites were. They had turned from God (which is a repeat pattern even with us today) and God allowed them to suffer to try to get their attention. A plague of locust has destroyed everything and they were literally starving. Vs. 12-13 says Even now, declare the LORD, return to me with all of your heart…Rend your hearts and return to the Lord your God.
Lent is a 40 day true inward reflection with fasting to get you back on track with God and Jesus. It does not have to be a food fast. It can be anything that you do a lot and when you reach for that food, item of entertainment or whatever you chose to fast from and it is temporarily gone, your focus can then turn to God and why you chose that item to fast from for 40 days. And hard inward reflection. Me, I am choosing emotional fasting from the list below. I have tried food fasting but with health issues, its just not practical – I am watching the clock too much and missing the whole point of why I am fasting.
The biggest thing I need to turn from with inward reflection comes from my mouth. I found a list online from a pastor and I revised it to better fit me and what I want my goals to be so that I can be a better reflection of Christ.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is ‘Day of Ashes’ so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the form of a cross.
Jesus prepared for his mission of saving us by spending 40 days of fasting in the desert. Let us honor Him by fasting for 40 days in preparation for Easter by giving up all forms of negativity and turn our hearts toward the love of Christ by reflecting His positive beauty of hope.
- Fast from hurtful words and strive to always be Kind
- Fast from sadness and be filled Gratitude and Joy
- Fast from anger and be filled with Patience and Gentleness
- Fast from pessimism and be filled with Optimism and Hope
- Fast from worries and trust in God
- Fast from speaking and focus on Listening
- Fast from stress and be filled with Prayer
- Fast from selfishness and be filled with Generosity
So even though my church does not practice lent, that does not mean I can not have an inward look at how I am showing my Christian beliefs and see if I need some fine tuning. We should always look for ways of improving our spiritual selves. The practice of ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross reflects of the bible speaking of from dust we are made and to dust we will return. That is a message of truth for our bodies…BUT..our hearts, our mind and our souls – that’s what we have to rend to God because that is what lives forever to those who love God.
And the first item on the list is Be Kind…