February 24

  Lent is not a word we use a lot around this church.  Many churches, especially those of the Catholic variety, do however practice it as part of the church calendar.   As I said in my sermon Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Easter) is a time of preparation and remembering of the passion of Jesus.  The passion of Jesus refers to the last day of Jesus’ life from the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (also known as the Mount of Olives) through the trial and flogging, all the way to his suffering and death on the cross.  In order to remember that kind of suffering, during Lent many people “suffer” to help them remember that Jesus suffered.  This suffering takes place in many forms.  Some fast for part of the day; others give up certain foods like red meat (hence many fish fries around), or chocolate, or sweets in general.  Some others give up some “luxury” like watching TV, using the internet, or other like activities.  And there are other ways, some more extreme, others less. 
   Again, the idea is to do something as a form of suffering or denial so that we do not forget the suffering Christ went through. 
   As a little side note: if you are going to start denying yourself some pleasure starting on Ash Wednesday, the world thinks you should indulge the day/night before- and hence the invention of Mardi Gras on Tuesday.  (Because that is just what Jesus did before he started suffering . . . NOT)
   While we typically do not practice Lent, the idea behind it is sound.  Jesus did suffer intense agony.  And this is something that we should remember.  But I am not sure “denying” ourselves food or TV will help us understand what Jesus went through.  We in our modern day cannot fully understand the depths of Jesus’ suffering.  Fasting and other penitence will not bring that any closer.  Do not get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with fasting or denying yourself something during Lent.  But let’s not believe that these actions in any way make us closer to Christ or to understanding everything he suffered for us.  Going without sugar for a month (for example), which some may consider suffering, does not equal to the suffering Jesus went through.  But if it helps you to remember not only the suffering of Jesus but also the reason for his suffering (hint: it is for our forgiveness), then Lent away.