My First Lent

Technically, it’s my 40th Lent, but it’s the first one I’ve ever observed.  As a product of a Baptist-heavy nondenominational upbringing, Lent was always a “Catholic thing”.  Now that I’m working for a Free Methodist church-based school, I’m learning that Lent is more than just a Catholic practice… other Christian denominations observe it, as well.

What is Lent?  Well, I’m no Lenten scholar but my understanding of it is this:  Lenten is the season between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (approximately 40+ days).  It is a time to identify with Christ’s suffering, the time He spent fasting in the desert.  During this time, He was tempted by Satan to use His position as the Son of God to test God’s faithfulness and provision.  Of course, Jesus did not give in to the temptation…  but it was 40 days of  self-denial.

Participating in Lent is not something you’ll find mandated in the Bible.  In fact, the practice of it didn’t begin until a few centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ.  Like other practices and traditions, its practice is more symbolic and acts as a tool to bring us closer to God through prayer and study of scripture.

Usually, during the Lenten season, participants give up something.  It can be dietary sacrifice, such as giving up meat,  sugar, or caffeine.  Others may give up watching TV or listening to secular music.  What is sacrificed is usually  something that is important to the individual and is something they feel will bring them closer to the Lord in its absence.

I know a few people who are giving up Facebook for Lent (what does that say about our culture today?!).  My sister-in-law is giving up sugary drinks.  Several people at the school where I teach are turning either vegan or vegetarian for 40 days (including my carnivorous, hunter-fisherman brother).   I am giving up all my Facebook games.  No Farmville… no Cityville… no Petville… no Frontierville… no “villes” at all.

Why?  Are my Facebook games evil?  No, but they are time-consuming.  It doesn’t matter how quickly I think I’m going to harvest my crops or collect rent, I always end up spending too much time there.  Time that could be much better spent doing… well… just about anything.  The pastor of my home church recently did a sermon on how we spend the time God has given us.  I felt justifiably convicted by this sermon.  I figured Lent would be a good time to see how my life (in all aspects, including spiritually) might be improved if I spent my time more wisely.

How is it going?  So far, so good.  I’m not missing my games too much and I’ve been more productive.  I’ve even had time to write up this blog on Lent!   I now know more about Lent than I did before… there’s the spiritual growth.

Are you participating in Lent?  If so, what are you sacrificing and how is it going?

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