“What are you giving up?” This is a question we will hear this time of year in reference to the season of Lent. Lent is not something many Baptists know much about let alone practice. It has not been a part of our tradition. We’re hearing more about it in recent years especially if you’re a pastor/church that follow the church or liturgical calendar or lectionary as a way to guide sermons and themes throughout the year.

Simply, Lent is for Easter like Advent is for Christmas. Many of us are familiar with Advent where four Sundays before Christmas, we begin to prepare our hearts and consider the wonder and mystery of the virgin birth and how God became human and lived as one of us. We’re all used to the advent candle lighting portion of our services highlighting hope, love, joy, peace and the Jesus candle.

Lent is intended to prepare us for Easter as we contemplate the life, death & resurrection of Jesus. Traditionally, lent uses prayer and fasting as a way for us to enter into the Easter story, the centre of the gospel. The idea is to give up something we consider important and meaningful (sacrifice) and replace it with a spiritual discipline that will allow us to draw closer to and hear from God.

The word “lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon (German) word for “spring” which had replaced the Latin word “quadragesima” which means “forty days”. Lent takes place 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter Sunday. “40” is significant too. Think about the number of times 40 is used in scripture and often for a time of preparation – Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai. It rained for forty days and nights when Noah was on the ark. Jonah gave the people of Ninevah forty days to repent. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness fasting when he was tempted by Satan.

How will you take time to prepare and enter into this season leading up to Easter?

One of our churches, East Preston Baptist Church, has put together a resource they are asking their church family to participate in. It’s called “40 Days of Sacrifice” and it includes a calendar with scripture verses for each day. A central element to this is prayer (daily 12 noon) and fasting (6am-6pm). All the details are here: http://epubc.ca/the-forty-days-of-lent/. This may be a good way for you to do Lent this year.

Here are a few more resources you can take advantage of:

A Call to Repentance – Joel 2:12-14 NLT
12 That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God as before.

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