By Tyson Thorne

February 13, 2018

Lent Large

Call tomorrow what you will: Valentine's Day, Single's Awareness Day, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent... All are correct. I confess, the season has snuck up on me as Easter Sunday is much earlier than normal this year. While I know that most protestants do not celebrate Ash Wednesday (or Lent), there are some good reasons they may want to. While not a Biblical event, it is a church tradition that started around a thousand years ago. It is an act the believer commits to before God that shows our gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice and reminds us of the cost of salvation.

During the Old Testament period, ash was often used as a sign of mourning, lament, or even repentance. Ash Wednesday takes this Old Testament practice and brings it into the Christian period for the purpose of preparing oneself mentally and spiritually for Resurrection Sunday. Ash Wednesday involves attending a service where one receives a smudge of ash from a palm tree, often in the shape of a cross, while the pastor or priest recites, "As you have come from dust, so you shall return." This kicks off the season of Lent a 40 day period where the believer gives up something of personal value to remind us of all that Christ sacrificed us.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, as we've stated, and ends on the Thursday of the Lord's supper. If you and your family have never participated in a Seder dinner, it might be a good time to start. There arin the seasonending on Palm Sunday. The length of the season reflects the forty days Christ spent praying and fasting in the desert (see Matthew 4: 1-11) and is a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter.

Since these traditions are not Biblical ones, they can be reviewed and altered in any way that fulfills the purpose of drawing nearer to God through gratitude. If your church, for example, doesn't have an Ash Wednesday service, there is no reason to not celebrate it. Also, because of the protestant doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, the ash does not have to be applied by a priest but may be smudged by a mother or father. It can become a memorable family event.

Even the practice of giving something up can be altered or added to so long as it is in alignment with the original purpose. For example, perhaps what one wants to give up is time. To take a little time each day and write a note of gratitude to a Facebook friend, reaching 40 friends during the 40 days. It may even be sacrificially giving, either to your church or other worthy cause. Whatever one decides to do for Lent, it should be something that is truly costly, not something you would do anyway. Many give up meat, or perform a daylight fast every day. Some use the time to form a new habit, like a daily Scripture reading or daily time in prayer.

However you decide to celebrate this season leading up to Easter, make it a special time for you and your family. We will be suggesting resources and providing more information in the weeks to come. Eventually, like our Protestant Guide to Advent (which we gave away last Christmas to faithful readers of, we will have available a Protestant Guide to Lent. Our desire is to provide you the resources necessary to draw nearer to God and live a holy life.

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