Reflections on Lent


Lent begins today. We’re digging into our archive to give you some perspectives on Lent from staff and congregants:

Phil on why the season of Lent matters, in last year in the March Reader:

“The Christian calendar (the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time) is how Christians have found a way to walk with Jesus through life. Instead of allowing a national or cultural calendar to shape our days, the church calls us to allow the life of Jesus to frame our living. In the season of Lent, we walk with Jesus as he heads to his death in Jerusalem. Lent is about reaching back to remember who we are and the life we are called to; it reminds us how our identity and vocation are shaped by the cross.”

Elissa Rodkey reflected on how her perspective on lent (starting, specifically, with Ash Wednesday) has changed:

“My traditional evangelical upbringing made me view the imposition of ashes (even in the safety of my evangelical school’s chapel service) with suspicion and more than a little revulsion. What was this heathen practice? ‘From dust you are and from dust you will return’ was biblical, I grudgingly admitted, but rather morbid. What was the point of all this embarrassing ritual? It wasn’t until my Anglican friend Christina brought me to an Easter vigil, a service that began in the hushed, darkened church and ended with the joyous ringing of bells and extravagant feasting, that I began to appreciate the purpose of Lent. This extended time of expectant waiting, of repentance, of seeing the church’s full glory veiled, made my heart more ready for Easter, more thankful for Christ’s sacrifice.

Since then I’ve looked forward to Lent, enjoying the chance for serious spiritual reflection and fasting as a means to reorient my own good but earthly desires… Each time [I fasted] I’ve been surprised by how God has used my fasting to nourish my soul.”

Mary Jane Scott reflected on her family’s traditions in the 2013’s March Reader:

“As a family we have engaged in different practices to help us reflect during Lent. We have found it helpful to marry tangible traditions to spiritual truths to make them more real and memorable. Two such practices include having a pretzel at each dinner meal and making a sunrise trip up a hill to a “cross” on Easter morning to celebrate the resurrection. Pretzels originated in Germany in the 4th century when a German monk prepared small breads in the shape of folded hands to help people to remember this season of prayer and fasting. For our children, it was a visual reminder of the value of prayer, especially during the pre-Easter days. To end our journey of Lent, we would sometimes wake in the pre-dawn hours and hike up the Centennial Park Ski Hill in Etobicoke to join other believers from the neighbourhood to watch the sun come up and share in a sunrise service. “

Elaine Chin, in the same edition, wrote about how her family fasted during Lent, citing examples like giving up TV, desserts and Coke:

“I suppose all this sounds a bit mundane, but the idea of giving up anything for an extended period of time seems an anomaly in an age where the prevailing attitude seems to be “I want what I want when I want it, and I want it now!”. Yet it may be precisely these peculiar voluntary acts we commit to during Lent that give us an opportunity not only to remember our Savior’s ultimate sacrifice for us, but also to engage a watching world in dialogue about the reason Easter is so meaningful to us. And isn’t this spiritual “show and tell” what we are called to do, in thankfulness to a gracious and merciful God?”

Addressing the concerns that parents might have of leading their kids through Lent, Alvin spoke of what lies at the end of the season:

“Let’s not be afraid of leading our children and families into sadness because we know the ultimate joy we will experience together on Easter Sunday as we remember that Jesus conquered the grave and that our Saviour lives!”

Amen to that.