Ed Jones, Pastor
Welcome to the third month of the year—or, if you were born before 150 B.C., the first! According to the oldest Roman calendars, one year was ten months long, beginning in March and ending in December. It may sound crazy, but you can still see traces of this old system in our modern calendar: because December was the tenth month, it was named for the number ten in Latin (decem), just like September was named for seven (septem). So, what about January and February? They were just two nameless months called “winter,” proving that winter is literally so awful it doesn’t even deserve a spot on the calendar.
For Christians, this month is the prelude to the time we commemorate the death and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ. This time is known as Lent.
Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit.
Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes.
Many pray, fast, contemplate, and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. They do these things because Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is the greatest holy day of the Christian year (even above Christmas) and those who do fast know that it is appropriate to prepare for such a holy day by engaging in such disciplines.
Fasting can be a good thing, and God is pleased when we repent of sinful habits. It is a biblical discipline that can be defended from both the Old and the New Testament. Christ expected his disciples to fast and issued instructions for how they should do so (Mt 6:16-18). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
If a Christian wants to observe Lent, he is free to do so. The key is to focus on Christ, pray, and stay in the Word of God. Lent should not be an attempt to earn God’s favor or increase His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is.
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. For information, visit Fellowship’s website at www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.com.