The Lenten journey to Easter
What does Lent mean to you?
At the recent Worship Leaders’ session we were asked this question. I held back as I wanted to hear what other people
thought and I wondered if my answer would seem a bit out of place. When I finally spoke up, I said ‘fasting’. I then
explained that it was mainly from my Caribbean roots as fasting is not usually an activity which we undertake in our
churches whereas in the Caribbean fasting would be a regular occurrence during Lent (and at other points in the year.)
Some of the reasons why we fasted were around deepening our relationship with God while not building up our
dependence on the world, saving resources which could then be channelled to the poor and the needy, and preparing for
Easter with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
Although there is no real biblical understanding of Lent (apart from the 40 days which Jesus spent in the desert) and
although it is similar to Advent – in preparation for Christmas, there isn’t that same sense of celebration. The
Lenten journey can be one of reviewing, revelation, realisation, repentance and remembering.
After fasting, my second response was, Lent is a time of preparation. During Lent people ‘give up’ something – perhaps to spend more time in prayer, to heighten their awareness of the concept of sacrifice – to put one in the right frame of mind for Easter. Then there are also people suggesting ‘taking up’ something for Lent – suggestions of what people could do to make a positive change, e.g. litter pick in your local community.
But let’s not forget that we start the season with food as Ash Wednesday is preceded by Shrove Tuesday when we eat lots of pancakes (or maybe not). Food is good and it is important. In the creation story, Adam and Eve ate food and for forty days and nights Jesus spent time going without food, he was tempted by the Devil to turn stone into bread.
Food perpetuates life in the physical sense, but the scripture suggests that humanity should not live by bread alone and Jesus’ response to the Devil was almost a direct quote from Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to both you and your ancestors. He did it to help you realize that food isn’t everything, and that real life comes by obeying every command of God. (TLB)
When asked why his disciples were not fasting, Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” (Mark 1:19)
So, what does Lent mean to you? As the bridegroom is with us and we are liberated from the dependence on food let us review our lifestyle and let the Spirit of God prepare us for this Easter. Wishing you all a blessed Easter.
Lord, be with us at every moment, and in every place.
Give us the courage to live faithfully, so that we can be ready for the new life which Easter brings.