Should I celebrate Lent?
Why Lent can be a helpful time to focus on Jesus
Every year, Christians around the world celebrate Easter - the time when we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, some denominations remember the solemn seriousness of Jesus’ sacrifice by participating in Lent. You might have heard of Lent before, but if you don’t quite understand it, this article is going to answer some common questions about Lent!
What is Lent?
Lent is a period of about six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. It lasts for approximately 40 days, which some people say is to remember the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and being tempted in the desert before beginning his public ministry.
Lent is traditionally a solemn time in the church calendar when believers remember the death of Jesus and mourn their sin that necessitated it. In some churches, flowers and other decorations are removed during Lent, as a sign of grieving.
Some believers mark Lent by fasting for periods, giving up luxuries or following daily readings (either from the Bible or from devotional books). For some people, these practices are a helpful reminder of the sacrifices Jesus made for us, and a way to celebrate who we are in Christ. However, others do things like fast in order to mourn their sin, so for them, Lent can be quite a painful and sad time. And others fast because they think it will help them come into God’s favour.
Do I have to celebrate it?
Lent is never mentioned in the Bible. Many denominations do not take part in Lent, and evangelical Christians (those who follow the teachings of the Bible as the authoritative word of God in all circumstances) recognise that because Jesus has died for us, we no longer have to be mournful and sad, and we definitely don’t need to do anything to earn forgiveness!
Yes, Jesus’ death was horrible, but it was also victorious and life-giving! Yes, we should be repentant of our sin, but we do not need to dwell in it any longer.
So no, you do not have to celebrate Lent, and in fact some ways of marking Lent may in fact be unhelpful for your walk with God.
Should I do it anyway?
Some evangelical Christians do choose to mark Lent in some ways - not to mourn their sin, or to try and make amends for it through a particular practice, but in order to spend an intentional period of time reflecting on the meaning of Jesus’ death.
Has your Christian walk felt a little stale lately? Maybe Lent would be a good time for your to refocus on what God has done for you.
How could I celebrate Lent?
If you think adopting some Lenten disciplines could be helpful for your walk with God this year, then you could give them a try!
One great thing to do is pick something to give up, and spend the time you would normally use doing that thing in prayer. For example, you could give up social media, and spend the time you’d normally spend on Facebook praying to God.
Other people choose to give up food, because it helps them to remember how dependent we are on God for everything! If you are going to try fasting, make sure you check with your parents that it’s ok, and only fast for a little while - maybe just between sunrise and sunset for one day. Drink plenty of water while you’re fasting, and eat filling, nutritious meals before and after. When your tummy rumbles during your fasting period, thank God for all he provides to you.
You could also use Lent to start a new Bible reading plan. This one from Bible Gateway takes you through all of the gospels during Lent (so it’s ambitious!) to help you focus totally on Jesus.
Do you have any other ideas for what you could give up or do during Lent, to help you focus on Jesus?