Lent: Season of Special Devotion
For many people, Lent is known as the season when you “give up something”. This comes from a history of Lent as the season in which fasting was a central act in preparing for one’s Baptism at Easter. A fast by nature is depriving the body of needed nourishment to enhance one’s focus on the grace of God in one’s life. Fasting is common among various religions throughout the world.
The Lenten Fast has been corrupted to trivially “give up something” (Hershey’s takes a big hit in Lent, for example). People think it necessary to give something up in Lent because “that’s what you do”. However, approaching Lent in this manner is not beneficial.
Lent is best understood as a season of preparation in which special acts of devotion are encouraged. These acts of special devotion may include “giving up something” (however in the true sense of Lenten fasting if something is given up it should not be taken up again. So that chocolate you give up, don’t return to eating it on Easter). The true nature of the Lenten Fast is to examine our lives and see what it is in our lives that separates us from God and one another. A healthy way to observe Lent is to work to give up those actions.
Likewise, we may wish to take on something new for our special Lenten devotion. This could be finding ways to volunteer in the community in ways that address the needs of those with needs; increasing the amount of scripture we read; enhancing our prayer life; attending a bible study are all examples of a healthy special act of devotion.
However you choose to devote your time in Lent make sure it takes you out of your daily/weekly rhythm. Make sure it stretches you to see God’s Kingdom in a new and challenging way. Make sure it causes you to truly examine your relationship with Christ so that, going forward, that relationship will be stronger.