Wait! It’s already time to prepare for Easter? Isn’t Easter still months away? Yes, but Lent starts soon. Something I’ve been mulling over for a while.
Lent is a new concept for me. Most people I’ve talked to think it’s a thing Catholics have to do before Easter, but I’ve also begun to hear the word Lent used more and more in evangelical circles. The word Lent itself is not from scripture, but has more of a “spring” or “lengthening of light” meaning, just like the word Easter. I don’t love using the word “Lent,” but like Easter, I’m not going to throw it out of my vocabulary entirely (although I understand why some would). Both are universal words that will come up often in conversations and I hope to point to Christ as I share how our family uses the words. Whether you call it Lent or something else, preparing for Resurrection Sunday may be one of the biggest events you put on your calendar….bigger than Christmas! Our family is going to celebrate Lent starting March 1st, but I’m honestly wrestling in my heart with what it should look like both personally and with my family. There are many ideas out there and room for creativity as long as you understand the heart behind the season of Lent.
Where Christmas feels like an exciting mystery and a party; Lent feels like a rollercoaster of sadness and relief. It’s the 40 days of fasting during the week and feasting on Sundays that makes it feel that way. Lent actually was formalized and put on the church calendar as a time of organized prayer and fasting during the Council of Nicaea, the same council that formed the canon of the Bible. The term Lent was used for this Pre-Easter fast and if I’m understanding the heart behind this very formal tradition, the hope was that people would stop and prepare their hearts for the sadness of the cross and relief of the resurrection by fasting and feasting.
There are two sides of this preparation that I’m considering – the part that is visual (symbols, feasts, and stories), and the part that is private (personal searching and closeness with God that happens in a fast). The visual part is easy to schedule on the calendar by attaching them to certain days as you walk with Jesus through the events leading up to the cross. But can you schedule heart searching and fasting on the calendar? This is where my mind goes back and forth. I want to say that it’s natural for me to stop and search my heart with God regularly, and that fasting comes up often. But my heart doesn’t naturally go there. More often God brings me into that wilderness and I must stop for the sheer survival of it. But choosing and planning to enter the wilderness for the season of Lent by writing the fasts and feasts on the calendar worries me, and yet I long for that closeness with God at the same time.
“What if it becomes a ritual that my mind goes through but my heart isn’t in it?”
“Can you schedule God’s work on a heart?”
I will do something for the Lent season because preparing for the Resurrection celebration is vital to me. I have ideas for the visuals that I will journal about as our family goes through them. But personally, I’m still unsure how to prepare my own heart. I think I’ll start Lent talking to God about it, maybe some clarity will come as I walk through it. This year Lent starts March 1st… whether you choose to follow Lent, schedule a fast, or wait for God’s leading, wouldn’t you agree that Christ’s Resurrection deserves more attention and preparation than a meal plan, spring decorations, and new outfits?
Below are some resources I’ve appreciated on the subject of Lent and Easter.
everthinehome.com click on the holiday button under the Blog through FamilyLife today. Find the category for Easter.
desiringgod.com website. Look for Noel Piper’s articles and her free book called Treasuring God in Our Traditions.
jellytelly.com. click on the Blog for articles on holidays. Search Easter.