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Introduction to the Lenten Season

The season of the church year we call the Lenten Season is in progress. It began on Ash Wednesday a couple of weeks ago and will continue to Good Friday at the beginning of April.  In evangelical circles the concept and practice of the Lenten season is a relatively new phenomenon. It has been associated more with churches with a strong liturgical tradition than with those in the evangelical wing of the Church.

A quick perusal of the websites of three of the largest churches in Grand Rapids, Mars Hill, Kentwood Community Church, and ResLife Church shows that none of them have a teaching series going on that is directly associated with the Lenten Season.  On the other hand, the websites of the First United Methodist Church , LaGrave Ave Christian Reformed Church, or St Andrew Catholic Church all make reference to the fact that we are in the Lenten Season.

When one looks back in history, one sees that he followers of Jesus found it advantageous to their walk with God to take a time before Good Friday to ponder the wonder of what Jesus did for fallen humanity. The practice gradually developed into a time of forty days of preparation for that day in the life of the church. The forty days are counted back from Good Friday while skipping over the Sundays.  that places the beginning of this time of preparation on Ash Wednesday. 

The purpose of the Lenten Season is to provide to Christians an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and remember the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. One practice that is engaged in during Lent is the forgoing of some particular thing for the duration of the season. It seems that this has become more common in evangelical circles due to the influence young friends from liturgical churches. Youth in the evangelical churches hear about the practice and find it intriguing to give up a favorite item (often a food) for the duration of Lent.

the point of giving something up for Lent has its basis in an attempt to remind oneself of the significance of what the Son of God gave up to become a human being and then to give himself up in sacrifice for his friends. Now the follower of Jesus is encouraged to think along the lines of giving something up so that whenever one would pursue that favorite item ,one can stop, refrain from it, and remember Jesus and his passion. It is a powerful practice that has ancient roots.  It is highly recommended, even if you do not attend a liturgical congregation!

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