Day 2

What is Lent?
Thursday, February 18
Isaiah 43:19

I grew up mostly watching Lent from the sidelines. I attended the local Presbyterian church with my family, but in our small town there was a large Catholic church. Many of my friends were a part of the parish, attended weekly fish frys, and gave up something for Lent each year.

Giving up chocolate was popular. Some gave up television, though I suspected that was a sacrifice inflicted by parents. One of my close friends even gave up ketchup in the height of her ‘put ketchup on everything’ phase. I didn’t really understand why they were giving up things. It was confusing to my young self, it can still be confusing today.

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting, and preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, lasts for forty days (excluding Sundays), and culminates on Easter Sunday. If you are looking for the Lent story in the Bible, I’m sorry to say you won’t be able to find it. While the practice is inspired by Jesus’ forty days fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), it started in the early church as a season of preparation for baptism. It continues today as a practice anyone can choose to take on.

It has been nearly a year since we were living in more ‘precedented times.’ One year of pandemic living has surely seen us experience every emotion possible at one time or another. This has been a collective wilderness season. While many of the questions we had at the beginning of the pandemic remain unanswered, this Lent we are going to focus on a truth we can know.

God is at work, even now, in this wilderness.

Throughout scripture we can read about God’s people going through seasons of great hardship individually and collectively. We are going to read the Exodus story of God bringing God’s people out of slavery. Then, the story of Job, one man who had everything taken away from him. We will end the season reading about Jesus’ death and resurrection.  

In these stories we will see how our story intersects with God’s bigger story and be reminded of the promise of eternal life given to us on Easter.

Tomorrow we will talk more about fasting. Why do we fast? Should I fast? And how do I decide what to give up?

For today, we welcome you here. God has invited us to look for signs of new life, and promised that when we do we will find paths in the wilderness.

Reflection by Denee Bowers

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