LENT – A 40 DAY EASTER TRADITION

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

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Easter, Sunday, April 16, 2017 www.cheathamnews.com

LENT is a Easter tradition practiced amongst several church denominations worldwide lasting six weeks or 40 days prior to Easter Sunday.      The six weeks of holiness is the beginning of a forty-day personal journey many Christians participate in reflecting upon the sacrifices Jesus Christ made for mankind.

The Easter tradition is referenced by CERC, Catholic Education Resource Center and Wikipedia, to have begun in 325 A.D. by a group of religious and biblical scholars, known as the Council of Nicea, declared two provincial periods of time be held each year, one being LENT.  http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/history-of-lent.html

Pope St. Leo, according to CERC, in 461 A.D. preached the faithful should “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the 40 days,” once more referring to the origin of a 40 day holy time period dedicated to a personal sacrifice of  fasting.               http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/history-of-lent.html 

LENT is commonly recognized as a Catholic tradition but many protestant churches participate in the season of holiness, both beginning the holiness time period with Ash Wednesday.  Churches worldwide held special Ash Wednesday services, yesterday, March 1, 2017, offering the blessing of an ash cross rubbed on the forehead; a personal acknowledgement of Jesus Christ and the commitment to go forth into the world proclaiming the love of Christ, forgiveness and salvation.  (How to receive the gift of salvation can be found on the next page of this article.)  

Ash Wednesday is based of the scripture in Genesis Chapter 3 verse 19, when God reprimanded Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit.  Unable to resist the temptation of the fruit led to the demise of life, as they’d known it, in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 

Adam and Eve set forth life as we know it today, filled with temptations, sin and death but the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born to spread the love of God, Heaven and eternal salvation, dying crucified upon a cross so whosoever believed in Him, The Father, the gift of salvation, in forgiveness of sin and the belief the soul will live for eternity with God the Father in Heaven after death. 

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is recognized as the greatest sacrifice offered to mankind.

LENT is representative of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting, praying, reflected upon His journey on earth and preparing for the legacy He’d leave for all of mankind, the sacrifice of His body nailed to a cross, crowned with thorns, whipped, tortured, suffering unbearable pain, eventually dying as His people, mankind, stood by and watched.  

Today participants of LENT commonly fast, choosing to eliminate or sacrifice certain food(s) throughout for the six week holy time period.  Many will sacrifice something of importance, or set aside a personal temptation for forty days,  others choose to perform 40 acts of kindness to show the love of Christ.

LENT is traditionally practiced for six weeks or 40 days but depending on beliefs and tradition of the church, LENT participants aren’t obligated to fast on the the six Sundays prior to Easter.  Otherwise the holiness time period is 46 rather than 40 days of sacrifice.   The Catholic nun Sister Joan Chittister explains LENT in the Huffington Post as follows:            

Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not…Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now… Lent is a summons to live anew…Lent is the time to let life in again, to rebuild the worlds we’ve allowed to go sterile, to “fast and weep and mourn” for the goods we’ve foregone. If our own lives are not to die from lack of nourishment, we must sacrifice the pride or the sloth or the listlessness that blocks us from beginning again. Then, as Joel (2:12-18) promises, God will have pity on us and pour into our hearts the life we know down deep that we are lacking.”                                                        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/ash-wednesday-2015_n_6664290.html

Everyone will leave this life, be remembered, leaving behind a non-perfect story, possibly a legacy to uphold.  Fortunately no one is expected to be perfect. Only one person ever walked this life perfectly, Jesus Christ, but each person has the opportunity to carry forth His legacy, receive forgiveness, gift of salvation and direction as His disciple.

If you or your family have never practiced LENT, challenge yourself to make a personal sacrifice, pray, focus on who you are, who you belong to, what legacy you are working to leave behind or more specifically, who do others see when they look at you and your faith walk.  

“Love can be shown by anyone but no one can show the love of Christ without knowing him and to know christ is to have a relationship with Him.” -Tonya Steele 

Although LENT began yesterday with Ash Wednesday, it isn’t to late to commit or dedicate a portion of time to focus on God, your relationships and faith walk.  Participating in LENT can be a personal or a family endeavor.  

Do you or someone you know practice LENT?  If so, what commitments or sacrifices are being made during this time period?  What, if any, sacrifices do you make as a family? We’d love to read your answers in the comment section below.  


To learn more about Lent visit one of the following Websites used within this article.

Christianity Today www.christianitytoday.com 

CERC – Catholic Education Resource Center                    http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/history-of-lent.html

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

Cheatham News (c) 2017

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