Lent began on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26). I challenge you to read this article and observe a Holy Lent. You can do this! Really.
What is Lent? Lent is a time to remember all that Jesus did for us — His journey to Jerusalem triumphal entry, His washing of the disciples’ feet, His beginning communion, His capture at the garden and subsequent torture and trials, His crucifixion and death and, later, His resurrection.
Lent is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) leading up to the three-day period prior to Easter. (Is this beginning to feel like a math problem?)
Lent is a time to intentionally turn and follow Jesus. Lent is not easy. Many denominations ignore Lent. Some think Lent is just for Catholics. No, Lent is for Christians, all Christians — Lent is a challenge. I challenge you to observe a Holy Lent.
People observe Lent (i.e. follow Lenten disciplines) in a great many ways. Some give up chocolate and/or other sweets. To be clear, Lent is NOT an opportunity for a divine diet. Others give up expensive and elaborate meals. That is a bit closer to the Lenten discipline of fasting – which is best done under a physician’s supervision.
I want to challenge you to consider another option. What if you were to consider Lent from two perspectives: Internal and external?
The internal perspective is the one most often associated with Lent. The internal calls for self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, self-denial and by reading and meditating on Holy Scripture. The focus is an internal one of discovery of one’s relationship with God and obstacles to give up for Lent.
The external perspective calls for you to see the world around you. The external perspective calls your attention to people in need, young and old alike. The external calls you to help at places like the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, Love INC, the Door, the FYND out Free Clinic, the Interior Center for Nonviolent Living, Stevie’s Place, NA, AA, Family Readiness Groups on Fort Wainwright, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army and much, much more!
Both perspectives are important. The internal perspective can help you to face each day as a child of God, forgiven and loved. The external perspective can help you to help others to know God’s forgiveness and love.
When you consider these perspectives consider Jesus. What would Jesus do? Did He stay home and read his King James Bible? (that’s a joke by the way) Or did he go out and help? Remember, Jesus took time simply to pray to His father in heaven. Don’t forget, that is our strength and our shield. In addition to praying, Jesus helped many people in many, many ways. You can do this too and make a difference in Fairbanks and the world.
I invite you therefore to the observance of a Holy Lent.
The Rev. Stephen Reed is a trained and ordained Episcopal Priest serving St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall. He also has the honor of serving as Chaplain for the Fairbanks Police Department. Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Faith section on March 13, 2020
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Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting