According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers will have spent nearly $19.6 billion on this year’s secular observance of Valentine’s Day, for candy, greeting cards, expensive dates, and a lot more.
While Valentine’s Day was named for a third-century Roman martyr, its secular focus has even reduced the Catholic church’s emphasis on the day as a liturgical feast day. However, Ash Wednesday and the religious season of Lent have rich meaning to many Christians.
As one not raised in this tradition and trained in non-liturgical, evangelical, and Pentecostal environments, the observance of Ash Wednesday and Lent was never much on my religious radar.
As a youth, some of my friends might say they had given up this or that (usually a certain food, beverage or activity) “for Lent.” They really never explained that Lent is a 40 day period preceding our observance of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, on Easter Sunday. It is intended as a religious observance of fasting and abstinence, during these pre-Easter weeks.
In the past, I may have held a certain smugness, realizing this religious holy day and its practiced deprivations are not mentioned in the Bible. But, I’ve come to consider that as a structured reminder of the many biblical events which occurred in the weeks just before Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, it may serve to help reflect on His determined pathway to Calvary. I’m open to learning from the observance of Lent. How about you?
For instance, the observance may help even devoted disciples to think anew about what Jesus’ death means for us today and in the future. As we contemplate afresh Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection, we can rejoice, in anticipation of the place which He is preparing for His people (John 14:2-3), who have sincerely repented of their sins and received His promise of eternal life (John 3:16-17).
Lent can prepare us to celebrate more fully our complete salvation. We have been saved from the guilt of our sins, in the past. We are being saved from the power of sin, in the present. And, we will be saved from the very presence of sin, in heaven’s eternal future. Therefore, Lent can help us better appreciate our complete salvation and also serve a threefold gospel purpose.
First, the application of the ashes can… Continue reading