Lent is a time to make a difference
The season of Lent began this week on Feb. 22 — Ash Wednesday. Opinions vary on when Lent ends. Some traditions believe that Lent ends with Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday, April 2. Others observe Lent ending on Maundy/Holy Thursday or Easter/Resurrection Sunday.
Lent is a 40-day period. If one counts each day on the calendar, the total is 46 days, not 40. So how is Lent a 40 days within an actual 46-day period? The key is Sundays. Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and we continue to celebrate his resurrection on Sundays all year. Sundays are not fasting days even within the season of Lent and thus are not counted.
Is Lent an exclusively Catholic tradition? No. Many observe Lent including Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, etc.
Why Lent? Lent is a time to closely follow our Lord Jesus Christ as he journeys to Jerusalem, trials and the cross. Lent is a time to grow by pondering your faith, asking questions and finding meaning.
What does one do for Lent? Are there cards, lights, candies and decorations? No, there’s none of that. Lent is not a joyful festival. Many give something up for Lent — that’s referred to as “fasting.” Many fast from chocolates. Lent is more about your soul than your diet.
I invite you to pray and ponder what is interfering with your faith. Answers vary and include addictions, screen time, conflicts, narcissistic self-righteousness, sin, etc. The same thing that interferes in your relationship with God is likely interfering in your relationship with family and friends. Lent isn’t easy, but it can be life changing. Pray and ask God for discernment. Taking time for self-examination, repentance, prayer, and reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word will help with your discernment.
In addition to fasting from something interfering with your faith and life, Lent is also a time to make a difference. Consider volunteering at the Food Bank, Helping Alaska, the Rescue Mission, etc. If that seems too much, then reach out to the person, or persons, that you haven’t talked with since the last funeral.
Lent 2023, like Lent 2022 and many other Lents, is in a time of war. The war in Europe between Russia and Ukraine is now over a year old. Conflicts continue around the world and polarization in America. Make Lent a little more pleasant by setting politics aside, helping one another, and praying for peace.
I invite you to the observance of a Holy (and life-changing) Lent.
Rev. Stephen Reed is pastor at St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and chaplain for Police and Fire. Faith Insight is sponsored by TVCC.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on February 26, 2023
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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