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Each year, millions of Christians celebrate the season of Lent, a time known for fasting, abstinence and prayer. This year the first day of Lent falls on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. While we are preparing for Lent, let’s unpack the meaning and history behind this 40-day Lenten season and maybe even think through a few ideas on how we might ready our hearts for Easter. Here are some basic principles behind the Lenten season:
Lent is the period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) that precedes the celebration of Easter. It’s often linked to the story in Matthew 4, when Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 14, 2018) and continues through Holy Thursday (March 29, 2018). During this time, many followers will focus on their spirituality—some will give up trivial things.
Many Christians see Lent as a time to recall and renew their commitment to Christ.
With this in mind, let’s all dig deep into our souls and think about the last time we really contemplated being fully committed and fully alive in Christ Jesus. When was the last time we really acknowledged Him for giving His life for us? And, if it has been a while, what is distracting us? Can we pinpoint it?
As sinners, we know that even with the best of intentions we often turn from God. Our thoughts become consumed with our next meal, an upcoming assignment, plans for the weekend, and so on and so on. Many times, we simply go about our routines without really putting much thought into it.
What if we were able to rid ourselves of those distractions by making a few changes to our routine when considering what to give up for Lent? Maybe we give up our afternoon snack break or turn off our cell phones for an hour each evening. Maybe we forego the cup of drive-through coffee each morning. And maybe we instead spend this time focusing our thoughts and hearts on Christ. Do you see how observing Lent can renew our connection with Him?
You never know—perhaps as we acknowledge the little things that sometimes distract us from God, we become more aware of the weight of his sacrifice for us. And in turn, we might just be one step closer to fully embracing His grace and unfailing love for us this Easter.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:8-10 NRSV
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