What is Lent and Why I Don’t Celebrate It


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Lent (Latin Quadragesima – English: Fortieth)  is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). In 2014 Lent began on March 5th.

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark  and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry where he endured temptation by the devil

Lent ends at Easter when Christians remember the execution of Jesus and then celebrate his rising from death.

The last week of Lent begins with Palm Sunday, which celebrates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people lay down palms at his feet. The last day of Lent is Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday (Easter Day)

In the Roman Catholic Church, Lent officially ends at sundown on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), with the beginning of the mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Not all Christian churches observe Lent. Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday (called Clean Monday) and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion  on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence – which shows very much its traditional source being the catholic church.

The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21

Do I celebrate Lent?

No I don’t. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to celebrate as long as you celebrate it from a heart that is there to honor the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. During the little bit of reading I was doing on Lent this morning, I came across these two statements on different websites.

Lent is a time when some Christians try to overcome their own faults because they believe that it was man’s sin which led Jesus to be crucified.

During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.

 This is where you lose me on Lent. I am all for honouring Christ and thanking him for the work of the cross, I am a fan of fasting and bringing the flesh into subjection to the spirit, I am all for turning my back on different little luxuries for a season to focus more on seeking God, but if Lent is about trying to “overcome my own faults” or “a form of penitence” then it’s a waste of time and a works program. In fact by doing this in this spirit you are devaluing the work of the cross. Jesus died because I was incapable of overcoming my own faults or paying penitence for my sins. I was weak and Christ was strong. He took my sin and gave me His righteousness. I can’t earn it, I can’t pay for it – all I can do is honour the cross and yield my life to his plans and purposes – and I don’t want to do that just for 40 days before Easter but every day of my life. I am not being critical of people who do celebrate it – providing they are doing it with the right heart and motive.



Categories: Easter, Theology

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8 replies

  1. Thanks Peter After being raised Anglican until salvation I totally agree with your article, mind you I loved my church and it’s family as an Anglican just never understood lent lol commitment to Christ changes everything, revelation from HOly Spirit is life transforming, dependence on Christ and not ourselves a new creation.

  2. We are saved by “GRACE” , we can’t do Anything, False teaching , please read Colossian 1 :22. Be Blessed .

    • Henk – You are way out of step with the bible by saying Salvation through Grace alone is false teaching and the reference you quote sheds no light on a counter argument.

      Col 1:22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

      Let me help you see the true message of salvation –

      Eph 2:1-10 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

      4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

      Please note the “not of works lest any man shall boast”

  3. Hello Peter, may I offer a biblical practice. Lent, Easter & Christmas are all ‘man made traditions’. There are no scriptural references for these events. The Word of God gives us Passover, the first of God’s Holy feasts. Counting 50 days brings us to Pentecost. In the 7th month we come to The Feast of Trumpets &Tabernacles.(around late September early October) This is when God came/comes to fellowship with His people. In this time frame we also have the Day of atonement. In times of old, this was the time God cleansed Israel and a great celebration followed. In the future, this will be the Day of Judgement, in Israel they have the 10 days of awe leading up to the feast of trumpets. This is a time when God called the men of the tribes 20 years and over, He ministered to these men who then ministered to their families. After this the whole tribe of Israel assemble before God, repented, sacrificed and were made clean. My point here is that the “church of Rome” has changed the times (calendars), and replaced God’s Holy days with their own. When we study the Kings of Israel we see that through ‘false worship to false gods all the people suffered the consequence of this sin, thus the banishment of the tribe of Dan. When the Kings did that which was right unto God, all the people prospered. I know we are not ‘physical Israel’ yet, in Leviticus the tribes of Israel were told to show us (aliens and foreigners) how to sacrifice before God to have our offering accepted. Today we offer a sacrifice of praise, we know that obedience is better than sacrifice. I choose to follow the Word of God unto salvation. I have experienced great joy through the celebration of these designated feast days, which all bring us to Jesus Christ. The way the world is turning at the moment is definitely bringing us all closer to the Day. God always does things at His appointed time, (not ours). I once struggled with these events as I was taught it was ‘legalism’. Now I am convinced these are TRUTH. They are in our scriptures and Jesus observed these events as well. God bless you on your journey toward eternity, Andrew O’Shea

  4. Hi Peter

    Love your post, very well thought through. It’s funny to note that Lent is a time of fasting and spiritual preparation for Easter to celebrate that Jesus died for us on the cross. Although the proper thing would be to that all year round, not just at easter/lent time.

  5. Some great thoughts Peter. I have noticed Lent being brought up lately quite a lot but it is primarily in some sort of self development mode of thought.

  6. Possibly another institution originally introduced by the RC church? and not found in the Bible. Like many other non-Biblically-based things such as, indulgences, purgatory, praying to saints, worshiping on Sunday not the Sabbath etc.

  7. Hi Peter,
    Great article, that I agree with in large part, except the penitent/penitence part. While many (most) of Catholicism’s rituals are works oriented, the true meaning of penitence isn’t, at least to my understanding.
    I don’t celebrate lent, and haven’t for many many years, was brought up a Catholic so know the rituals involved. After being saved, the Holy Spirit gave me real revelation of many aspects of the Catholic rituals – showing me the Biblical basis some have, which was eye opening. And looking back to my childhood, even though it was catholic- I met with God and encountered the Holy Spirit many many times in church and worship, in spite of it being catholic (yes that’s Grace right there, I know). When I first gave my heart to the Lord, I outright rejected absolutely everything about Catholicism for many years. But then when attending my grandmother’s funeral mass about 10 years later, the Holy Spirit started showing the basis of what I was seeing. It really did open my eyes. I could see many old testament rituals in practice just in that one hour. It forced me to re-evaluate my blanket rejection of all that I had grown up with. It gave me the ability to see just how much God and His Word was already implanted in me, and allowed me to incorporate the truth I already knew. I still reject the spirit behind catholicism in every way and the works mentality it produces. But I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I believe the concept of Lent it was not based out of a works mentality at all, and largely it wasn’t presented to me growing up with that mentality either. It may have since become one, and I guess it would depend on a lot of different things, but I feel it was (and still is for many) a time to stop, reflect, be penitent “dictionary definition: feeling of regret for one’s sins or misdeeds: compunction, contriteness, contrition, penitency, remorse, remorsefulness, repentance, rue.” and deal with issues in a person’s life. The basis of fasting during this period can be viewed either of two ways – a works mentality, or a way to break the yokes of wickedness as prescribed in the Bible. People going through the motions of lent because that is what their church says to do are likely works based, but people who have had a revelation from the Spirit of God are opening their hearts and putting Him first. I never felt I was taught that celebrating lent was the way for me to make myself perfect, more it was a way to admit my imperfection and bring it to God humbly, believing He would release and empower me, but that I also had a part to play in walking in the freedom He gave. I think that is what the person writing on the website was meaning who said Christians try to overcome their own faults because they believe that it was man’s sin which led Jesus to be crucified. We are called to deal with ourselves, as you say, to bring our flesh into submission. I guess it depends how you read it.
    Like you, I do not celebrate lent. I believe the concept of lent should be a lifestyle thing, just, and eating fish for 40 days etc doesn’t really doesn’t bring me to a place of deeper communion. But I’m cautious not to throw the baby out with the bathwater anymore 🙂
    May your Easter be blessed!

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