Back in 2014, I decided to make Lent part of the regular rhythm of my calendar. Now I’m not a Catholic, and so I didn’t bother with only eating fish for dinner on Fridays. But in this crazy-busy world, it isn’t hard to see the value in abstaining from something in order to make room for more important things. So what’s it all about? I wrote about Lent in 2018 and 2017 but packaged simply, Lent is a 40 day period of reflection, repentance, and preparation which begins on Ash Wednesday (6th March in 2019, you’re welcome) and ends with the celebration of the triumph of Easter Sunday. Back in 2014 I wrote about my first experience of Lent:
Where do you start? Everyone’s journey through Lent will be different depending on the time and the resources you can give, but there is always reward in actively engaging in acts of hospitality with God and others through a re-prioritisation of time or a commitment to different tasks. Starting small, I subscribed to a daily devotional from a popular Bible website which walked me through the gospel of Mark, mixed in with words of wisdom from church fathers throughout history. I spent time each morning reflecting on God’s story and the privilege I have of playing a part in it—and remembering that it’s not the other way around.
Most people would agree that our lives are too crowded. So for me, this practice was enriched by times of fasting (the specifics of which I don’t see value in mentioning). Creating space in this way meant that I was more present
Is Lent Necessary?
The answer is of course not. Lent is an act of hospitality—by that, I mean opening my heart and home to God so that his transforming presence might be more closely attended to. Laying down or taking up are invitations to enter into grace, not earn it. It is also good to remember that such practices should not just be focused inwards but also outwards; blessing others, solidarity with the
Lent in 2019
As the daily readings took me on the trajectory that led Christ to be crucified, I reflected on my own life in the light of the gospel. I found that—for the most part—I was enjoying the space I had created and a simpler, less cluttered life. But what this revealed was that many of my so-called complexities are simply idols I have refused to call by name and crucify. God used the practice of Lent to press on my own sins and shine light where darkness still dwells. This year my prayer is that God would use Lent again to crucify my sin and magnify the significance of Christ in greater measure, and that in meditating on the one who loved me and saved me by giving his life for me, I would surrender those parts of me that don’t bring him glory.
Lent might end with Easter Sunday, but Christ is risen, and he graciously invites you to share in both his crucifixion and his risen life. What does that look like for you?