I grew up in a Baptist tradition which did not recognize Lent. After all, “Lent” is not a Biblical term and Baptists try to remain true to the Word of God.
Who made it up and what does it mean? I assume the Roman Catholic Church “invented” Lent for the purpose of helping us remember the pain which Jesus suffered on our behalf. The inner ache we experience for a favorite thing, of which we deprive ourselves, does go a long way to help us focus on Jesus’ suffering. And why did he suffer? He didn’t have to. He willingly suffered and died to be the sacrificial lamb to cleanse those of us who believe He is the Son of God. And then He rose from the dead to prove His identity as God’s Son! Our belief becomes our ticket to heaven.
I received an email today titled, “Can Lent Be Happy?” from Kate Shellnutt, the Editor of CT Women. She considered giving her article a title such as “Happy Lent” but thought that seemed inappropriate. She called it grim and legalistic to force ourselves to give up something we enjoy. Then asks, is that “really a God-honoring sacrifice?” She explains, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, our hearts become transformed by the sacrifice we have made.
I am happy for those who do make the effort to deny themselves of a favorite something. In so doing, they may find other things they were missing out on.
Personally, Lent as a time of focusing on Jesus’ suffering, makes me queasy. While well aware of Christ’s suffering for my salvation, I find it too squeamish to dwell upon it. I push Lent behind me, looking forward to Easter and the Resurrection which remain my focus for this time of year. I decorate my house with trinkets of new life. I do remember the Lord’s death adequately through Communion. While living in Canada where I attended an Anglican Church, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Initially, I thought Communion every Sunday would inhibit the specialness of the ceremony. But it does not. It only makes it more special.
Happy preparations for Easter!