Lent

Dr. Sachi Nakamura (JCFN Board Member, Christian Books Translator, Spiritual Director)

This year, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26th. Lent is a period of 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It is based on the 40days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is a time to prepare for the resurrection of the Lord by meditating on the suffering and death of Jesus through prayer and repentance, and good deeds for atonement. 

 

Traditionally, the church has made Lent as a time of fasting from certain food such as meat or placing other dietary restrictions, or doing good deeds or practicing certain behaviors in moderation. As  Lent approaches, you may start thinking, “what shall I let go of this year? Should it be sweets or SNS?” I think that whether you choose to restrict certain behavior or not is a matter between you and God.  Ruth Haley-Burton at the Transformation Center in Chicago says this: The question we need to ask God during Lent should not be “what shall I let go of this year?” Rather, we should be asking “How shall I repent and how can I return to God from my heart?” and “Which areas in my life have I strayed from God? What practices will help me get back with God?”    

Bible scholar Dr. Ransom Yamazaki says this;

https://1co1312.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/荒野の40日/) (Japanese only)

 

“Lent is a time to remember and identify with Jesus Christ’s experience of spending 40 days in the wilderness.  No matter how we choose to spend this period, the important thing is to deepen our awareness as God’s people and God’s children and to make our lives further rooted in Christ.”

 

Even if you have never done anything special for Lent in the past, maybe you can prepare for the resurrection of the Lord by reflecting on what may be hindering you from loving God and your neighbor, and seeking God’s guidance about it.”  

 

Lent

Dr. Sachi Nakamura(JCFN Board member, Christian books translator, Spiritual Director)

 

Hi everyone. The Lenten season started March 6 this year. How are you spending days in this Lent? As many Reformed churches do not emphasize liturgical calendar, some of you might be unfamiliar with the meaning of Lent.

The universally accepted calendar we use today is called Gregorian calendar and finds its origin in Julian calendar used in the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire first adapted a calendar starting on January 1st. Meanwhile, the liturgical calendar starts at the beginning of the Advent. Also in this calendar, a year is divided into seasons of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, according to the life of Jesus and works of the Church. Acknowledging the seasons on the liturgical calendar in our daily life, we are reminded that we are living in Kairos (time of God) as God’s people.

 

Now, Lent is the forty days (without counting Sundays) before Easter. It is the season for us to return to God, the season to reflect and repent, and the season to rededicate ourselves through prayers, Scriptures, and fasting. Traditionally, inspired by the forty days of Wilderness experience of Jesus, people have given up some food or activities.

 

Some people say that the purpose of fasting and giving up in Lent is not to create pains and suffering to ourselves but to create a room for a better nourishment. For instance, by restricting food, we gain deeper insight from the Scriptures; by restricting our regular activities, we gain time for prayers. Historically, some people donated for the poor by saving money for their meat and/or wine. Several years ago while going through a trying time, I gave up “worrying” during the Lent and tried to give thanks to God instead of worrying. There is no instructions in Bible about how to spend Lent. So we can seek for God’s guidance in prayer to find a way to spend Lenten season.  Isn’t it awesome that we are given opportunities to rededicate ourselves to the Lord, day by day, season by season, as often as possible?

 

About half of Lenten Season is past this year. But there are still three more weeks before Easter. If you have not thought about Lent but now you started feeling led, may I encourage you to spend the next three weeks in prayer and reflection, thinking of Jesus’ Passion on the cross for our sins, examining to see if you find an area of life where you are led to return to the Lord?

Scroll to top