Lent 2017: A Little Farther Down the Path

As someone wisely said, regarding the potential benefits from observing the season of Lent, “It’s not the deprivation, it’s the discipline.” (Oh wait, I think it was me, so it can’t be all that wise. Still, it is true.) The benefits of Lent don’t come from what we give up but, rather, from what we learn—about ourselves, about the world around us, about God and ultimate reality—through some sort of focused, intentional experience.

On the church-year calendar, Lent (from the Old English word for springtime) is the 40-day period, excluding Sundays, leading up to Easter. It represents the forty days Jesus spent alone in the wilderness, following his baptism, during which he was “tempted by the devil” as part of his preparation for the ministry that lay ahead of him. Since Jesus fasted from food for the duration, his followers have traditionally deprived themselves of some commodity or activity as a way of identifying with Jesus and preparing for the observance of Passion Week and the celebration of Easter. Continue reading


In Defense Of Lent

I grew up in a tradition which not only didn’t recognize Lent or Ash Wednesday as legitimate observances for Christians, it actually found them laughable. I remember how ash-wednesday-2we would snicker and make wise cracks about those few of our classmates who would leave school at noon on Ash Wednesday and return an hour or so later with some sort of black smudge on their foreheads. We didn’t understand it, and so we made fun of it.

I remember hearing a preacher tell the story of a Catholic priest who was accosted by a mugger as the priest was walking home after visiting a parishioner who was ill and confined to her home. He carried a box of chocolates which the parishioner had given him as a token of appreciation for his kindness.

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