It’s a shrug.
That’s the reaction I guess I’d get if I were to ask millennials what Lent meant to them. I’m also pretty sure that that would be the reaction of most twenty-first century Christians, especially, those who don’t have traditional liturgical worship experiences.
So, a little introduction...
Lent is the 40 days before Good Friday, always starting on what is called “Ash Wednesday.” (Though Eastern and Western Christian traditions count it differently.) The 40 days are traditionally observed by the faithful to prepare for Good Friday, the holiest day of the year.
Christians who observe Lent use it as a time for prayer and devout reflection. Preparation for Good Friday would also involve fasting and more time in prayerful meditation on Jesus’ sacrifice. Some will forgo (at least temporarily) some hobbies, some kinds of food, or activities such as staying off social media, mobile phones, etc.
Why 40 days?
After his baptism, Jesus withdrew to the Judean desert and fasted for 40 days and nights. And when he was in a physically weakened state, Satan came to tempt him to try to frustrate His mission on earth. He didn’t fail us. So, by observing Lent, Christians are remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Lent, sadly, is a little off our radar in our culture today, as it stands for things we have little time to think about.
You might want to spend the next few weeks praying more often than usual, attending church more often, reflecting more deeply on the human propensity to sin, and stepping up your efforts to be holy.
It is important however to keep in mind an important point: you don’t “do” Lent to earn grace or get more merit points of salvation. You do it simply to remember and appreciate more deeply Jesus’ sacrifice, and thereby, thank Him for all He has done for you.
How you observe Lent depends on how traditional you like your Christianity. However, let us choose to observe Lent as we should never want to stop being grateful to Jesus Christ for He“offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” and is now “at the right hand of God interceding for us.”
Rev. Robert Chew