(March 09, 2023) Dr Jim McClure shares…
We are very familiar with the festivals of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter that are commemorated each year. In fact they are so popular that the secular and commercial world has largely taken over Christmas and Easter as holidays rather than ‘holy days.’
Even so, as Christians, we do try to focus on the profound spiritual significance and meaning of those events.
We are in the midst of festival of ‘Lent’ that is celebrated each year by millions of Christians throughout the world. It is a 6-week event that began this year on Wednesday, February 22, and will end on Saturday April 8, 2023 – the day before Easter Day. While many churches worldwide observe Lent, some denominations – and Christians – pay little attention to it.
What is Lent and why did it become part of Christian practice? Almost 1900 years ago one of the leaders of the church, Irenaeus, mentioned a time of prayer and fasting for 40 days before Easter. A couple of hundred years later it was generally practised by Christians worldwide. Its purpose was focusing on God, developing a closer relationship with Him and reflecting on the wonderful fact that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly from the tomb.
I am not suggesting that Lent should become part of the calendar of every church and every Christian. I wholly agree with the comment, ‘You could observe 1,000 Lents and it won’t ever accomplish in your life what the cross of Jesus has.’ That is absolutely true.
Nevertheless, I believe that that our relationship with God can be greatly deepened and strengthened whenever we seriously set aside time in prayer and think deeply about what it truly means to be a Christian.