Growing up, the main thing I remember about Lent was my dad gave up eating lots of chocolate, but started eating a lot of bread. I generally thought of it as a not-so-fun time of year where you give something up you like. Since then, I’ve learned there is a bit more to it and Lent is actually a chance to deepen our spirituality as we become more in tune with the central mystery of the Christian faith- the passion and resurrection.

Brief History of Lent

In the early church, Lent served as a time of self-examination for new converts to the faith. As the church grew, the tradition expanded to a more formalized, 40 day season of repentance for the whole church. After the Reformation, the church often has been suspicious of rituals, traditions, and formal calendars for creating a dead, faith when we have been given access to the grace through faith.

In recent years, there has been a “reawakening” to some of the traditional practices from church history in search of a deeper, historical expression of the Christian faith. Rather than seeing traditions as dead rituals or religious superstitions, tradition can be a source of deepening our walk with Christ, and our community in Christ.

Significance of Lent

This season of 40 days is a time to pause and reflect on our lives as we prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection. Following the discipline of the church calendar can help us to become more aware of what Christ is doing in our hearts and all around us as we prepare for a more authentic, meaningful celebration of Easter. In our quick fix-instant gratification culture, it is easy to not be very reflective on the state of our souls and treat the cross and resurrection as a magic ticket to heaven. We are often guilty of wanting the benefits of Christ without being willing to take on the way of Jesus. One missionary says, “a superficial understanding of the events and pattern of Christ’s death only leads to a shallow and impotent experience of our new life in Christ.”