Summary: What was lent supposed to remind us of? What does lent remind us of?
Some thoughts on the Lenten Season
Lent, known to be the oldest ritual in Church. It came into existence as early as 130 AD. The observation of lent began as a season of penance, driven by the example set by Lord Jesus Christ during his 40 days of fasting in the desert where he overcame the temptation from Satan. It soon became a period of instruction for new believers. Till 600 AD lent commenced on a Sunday but in AD 600 Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. As Christians came to the church for forgiveness, Gregory marked their foreheads with ashes reminding them of the biblical symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes) and mortality: "You are dust, and to dust you will return" (Gen 3:19).
Tradition asks us to give up some thing for Lent. It is a time of self denial. We are expected to deny some thing that we like.
Tradition is discarded in modern times. The opposition to Lent as a ritual stated as early as 16th centaury, when the Anabaptists opposed observing this, and many other rituals and festivals, claiming that these were the handy work of Romans, and hence Christians should not observe those rituals and festivals.
Currently also there are differing views about observing Lent.
I have a question, in opposing the ritualistic observation of Lent, are we throwing the baby out along with the bath water?
What was lent supposed to remind us of? What does lent remind us of?
Like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.
First fruits and Tithes
1. When you have entered the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2. take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, "I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our forefathers to give us." 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: "My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. 7 Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me." Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him. 11 And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household.
Our reading from Deuteronomy show us what Moses asked the people to do before they marched off to the promised land.
To me Lent is our period of preparation before we march into our promised land in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lent is about submitting to God’s will — all of it — and following God’s direction wherever it is headed even when you can see a cross at the end of the path.
The curse of being blessed with bounty is that you can easily become more focused on the blessings and too easily forget the One who imparted the blessings.
When the one forgotten is God, the words of the Lord at the end of Mose’s ministry ring with warning. Don’t forget who brought you to this point. So Moses reminded them of his and their personal history. “My father was a wandering Aramean….”
We need to be examine ourselves and be able to accept our unworthiness for receiving God’s grace.