Lent – when the ashes fade!
Matthew 4:1 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
I was reminded the it was Lent today when I saw an obviously Catholic family come out of the store this evening with matching black thumbprint on their foreheads.
I am used to seeing this having lived in West Central Scotland for the best part of thirty years I recognize the holy days and the symbols that represent those days. (One year I made money out if it through overtime when I worked for the mainly Catholic soccer club Celtic in Glasgow to cover for those who wished to have time off to do the sacrament!)
1) What is Lent?
Today is the beginning of the 40 day festival which culminates in Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The biblical basis for this celebration comes from when the LORD Jesus was tempted in the wilderness prior to starting his public ministry. (See above verses)
2) Who celebrates it?
Traditionally it is celebrated by the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheran and Methodist congregations, however it has renewed popularity amongst some Non-denominational churches.
3) Is Lent a good idea?
If done properly then yes it is a great idea, the denial of the flesh in order to surrender yourself to God, renew your relationship with your creator and begin again in a closer communion to God, what is not to like about the idea?
4) What happens after Lent?
In the account listed above Jesus begins his public ministry straight after conquering the temptation to eat for those 40 days. There is an example in there folks!
There is nothing that states that repentance and seeking Gods face has to be only a 40 day event, one would hope that the true adherents of Lent would continue to draw closer to God.
5) Abuses of Lent
Because Lent is a fixture on the spiritual calendar of some churches we do see some abuses, the bulk if these abuses are to do with the persons heart and their motivation for doing this act in the first place.
You cannot judge a denomination by it’s people as we are all a mixed bag of nuts. Some of these abuses are listed below:
5a) Badge of honor Lenten flock
The ones who go to be seen out in public with their ashes on their head, like it is some spiritual badge of honor that they are the “real ones” of that denomination.
5b) Frivolous Lenten folk
You know the ones, the ones who advertise what they are giving up and it is usually something that they don’t do anyways (like a diabetic giving up chocolate for 40 days)
5c) Super Lenter
You know the guy/girl, ever present during Lent and Advent, goes missing on Easter Monday only to reappear alive and well on the first Sunday Of Advent. Speaks fluent Christianese and can discuss the finer points if denominationalism with the best of them.
During Lent there are major protestations that this has been the hardest Lent ever and they feel so much closer to God, but then once the festival is gone…so are they!
Jesus spoke about this when he was rebuking the Pharisees when he stated “they have their reward already” (Jesus was not impressed)
Do I do it?
Not recently no, in my past when when I have attended Anglican or Episcopalian churches I have. As stated above I see no real issue with it as long as it is done in the right heart.
Personally I haven’t resolved to this year, but if I was giving something up it probably would be social media. I say that as it truly is my biggest distraction on on a daily basis.
I pray this was a blessing, please share, like or comment as the LORD leads you too.