Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lent and Other Christian Traditions

In the last few years, I've heard a lot about Lent. I don't remember hearing much about it growing up. I knew it was a period of time before Easter and that people often fasted during it. But I knew little else about it. Beginning to hear about it more increased my curiosity to learn more about it.

My crash course in Lent taught me the following:
  • Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter and excludes Sundays.
  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday before Good Friday.
  • Lent is a time of preparation leading to Easter, commonly observed by fasting.
  • Ultimately, Lent is a time of preparation leading up to the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Learning about Lent also explained to me why I had never heard much about it before. It's not something all Christian churches observe, mine being one that traditionally does not.

I've also come to realize that learning from traditions in other Christian churches can help us to grow in our understanding of following Christ. I think this is one of those times.

Even if we choose not observe lent ourselves, there is value in realizing the importance of making time in our lives for fasting and repentance. And for taking time to reflect on the events we remember each year at Easter.

Lent isn't mentioned in Scripture, so we can never make it something required for all Christians. But, if something has survived as many years of church tradition, it may be something worth looking at. Not because we necessarily need to follow the tradition, but because we need to understand why so many who have gone before us have seen the value in something.

And so I'm left to reflect on what, if any, place the observance of Lent should have in my life. I see value in it and yet, I find myself cautious of getting caught up in legalism over it.

I guess ultimately this is something to talk to God about. If it's being done for the right reasons, then it can be a good thing in our relationship with God. If it's being done for the wrong reasons, then it can have the opposite effect to what we want it to.

I guess the thing I want to leave you with in this post is a challenge to think about your own life and about the things you do in certain seasons to grow deeper in your walk with God. You might have things you do at certain times without realizing you do. We have them because they help us.

But, they might not work the same way for someone else. They may have different things they do in those seasons. And maybe if we take the time to hear from others and learn what works for them, we'll grow more in our own walk with God.

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