“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”
2 Corinthians 13:5a, NIV
This year the Lent begins on this 18th February, the Ash Wednesday! The six weeks before Easter is called the “Lenten Season”. It is a time to focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Saviour – Jesus Christ.
If you want to be a person of great faith with a great dream and a great life work, you do the very things that David did to defeat the giants of delay, discouragement, disapproval, and doubt.
LENT: IN A “GLIMPSE”
The word “lent” means “lengthen” and stands for that time in spring when the days grow longer.
The original period of Lent was 40 hours. In the early 3rd century, Lent was lengthened to 6 days. About 800 AD it was changed to 40 days. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter. Sundays are not included in those 40 days. Those 40 days correspond with Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness.
Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, is celebrated in many parts of the world with feasting. The French call it “Mardi Gras”. The Germans call it “Fausching”. The feasting comes from the custom of using up household fats prior to the 40 days of Lenten fasting, when no fat is used. Shrove Tuesday takes it’s name from “shriving” or forgiving sins. The word “carnival”, in relation to Mardi Gras means “good-bye to meat”.
In early England, women of the parish traditionally spent Holy Week scrubbing the church, so it would sparkle for the Festival of Easter.
LENT: WHAT IS IT?
1. A TIME OF PREPARATION
The Lenten season is intentionally set aside for examination, instruction, repentance and prayer. This season is one of preparation for all the people of God.
“For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” Galatians 6:3-5
2. THE TIME OF PENITENCE
In the Lenten season, self-examination is crucial. An individual’s response to the call for purposeful reflection on one’s need for God is an important factor in choosing a discipline with which to actively observe Lent. For some, fasting is a means of self-examination and denial; yet, fasting is not an appropriate discipline for all people.
The purpose of a Lenten discipline is to strip away those things which clutter one’s life or impede one from being in relationship with God. It is also a time for people to experience and reflect on the sufferings of Jesus, in light of personal sin and unrighteousness.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:1-3
3. THE TIME OF PRAYER
During Lent many people give extra time to personal and public prayer. The traditional symbol for these forms of Lenten prayer is the pretzel.
In the fifth century, Christians were known to make dough of flour, salt and water, which they shaped into the form of two crossed arms to remind themselves to pray. The pretzel was only eaten during the season of Lent, as a reminder to pray.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
4. THE TIME OF PURSUIT
As Christ fasted and prayed in the desert for forty days, we try to be mindful of Christ for the standards by which we live our lives, with goals of self-giving and suffering love.
With such high goals, any programmatic response may seem to fall short, yet an attempt to incorporate prayer, meditation, and useful action in the path of Christ into our lives, is invaluable.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
5. THE TIME OF PASSION
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” Isaiah 58:6-9
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
by “My Manna”, 16 February 2015
via Robert Selvakumar – Yahoo Groups | Sharing Your Burdens