As we had a Service of Ashes and our first Soup & Prayer meeting we remember that we have entered into the Season of Lent. But what is Lent? The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lengten,” which simply means “spring” — when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time in which we anticipate the victory of the light and life of Christ over the darkness of sin and death.
As we journey the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, let us remember the reality of our broken humanity, but as days grow brighter, we might experience with greater abundance the reality of God’s redeeming grace. And so, just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, such as a wedding, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Traditionally Lent is also a period of fasting. Often fasting has become a bit of a forgotten discipline that is not been practiced by all Christians anymore. Last year pastor Steve guided us into this beautiful discipline as part of the series on the Spiritual Disciplines we did together. Fasting in the strictest sense is going without food and drinks for a certain time, although different people fast in different ways. Some people try and eat very sober, some people fast from certain products while other might fast from social media. Fasting is meant as a way to humble ourselves, sober our lives and focus on God trough meditation and prayer. Here are some New Testament examples of people fasting:
• Anna, the prophetess, is described as serving God day and night with fasting and prayers (Luke 2:37).
• John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast and Jesus Christ said His disciples would fast after His death (Mark 2:18-20).
• Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted when they ordained elders in the Church (Acts 14:23).
• And Jesus Christ fasted 40 days and nights before facing Satan in an epic battle of spiritual will (Matthew 4:2).
This year I challenge you to try and fast. If this is new to you, you don’t neceserally need to start by totally stopping eating and drinking, but you might want to try and look for ways that work for you. As fasting for a long time was not part of my life I am also exploring this spiritual discipline and I have decided not to eat meat until Easter. To still get some proteins inside I will eat a bit more beans and lentils. I’m going to have a Lentil Lent.
Jan Witsel – Assistant Pastor