Growing up in a non-denominational independent evangelical church we really never talked about this thing called “Lent.” I heard about it, mainly from Catholic kids at school who had to eat fish on Fridays and came to school one Wednesday with these ash smudges on their foreheads.
But I didn’t really understand it.
What Is Lent?
More traditional churches follow a Christian calendar divided up into seasons, not based on the movement of the earth and the moon, but on important Christian events. The Advent season, for example, is that time leading up to and surrounding Christmas.
Lent is the approximate 40 day period on the Christian calendar between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It’s a somber time of reflection and contemplation, commemorating the final days of Jesus’s ministry on this earth, before his death and resurrection.
How do Christians Celebrate Lent?
One of the ways many Christian communities observe this season of Lent is by giving something up, of making a sacrifice of something. It’s a type of spiritual fast.
But why give anything up, and why during Lent? The idea is that as Christians we are to become like Christ. This is a spiritual transformation that reflects itself in our attitude and our actions. It is a lifelong pursuit. So what did Jesus do?
Christ gave up his life by dying on a cross, and we honor that by giving up something in the weeks leading up to his death and resurrection. And the number of days mirrors Christ at the beginning of his ministry when he went into a desert place and fasted for 40 days.
What am I Giving Up?
So my wife asked me at the beginning of Lent what I wanted to give up. Did we want to give up the same thing, or were we going to each give up something different, if anything at all. Until she asked the question, I hadn’t really given it much thought at all. It’s not something I think about. After all, I’m still getting used to the whole, “Giving it up for Lent” thing.
I chose to give up movies.
Now some of you might say, what’s the big deal about that? You watch maybe one or two movies a year. But movies used to be one of my big things. For a time, I went to the movies almost every weekend with a regular group of guys. We weren’t all there every week, but it was a standing invitation that I made it to about every 4 out of 5 weeks.
The movies are still my go-to guys night out, though it’s usually only once every other month these days. But In giving up movies for Lent, I gave up watching movies on TV, DVD, Netflix, the theater, everything.
So for me, when I’m relaxing in the evening, flipping channels after dinner, if I hit a station with a movie on it, I quickly move past it. I don’t pop in that classic DVD when I’m lounging around on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not checking out the new releases on Netflix and adding them to my queue. Instead when I feel the urge to watch a movie, I take a moment and contemplate and reflect on the work Jesus did for me, and what I can do to be more like him.
So that’s what I’m doing for Lent. How about you?