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Fayetteville, AR 72701

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Fayetteville, AR 72701

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Central UMC Blog

Lent - Wandering through a Sacred Season

Posted by Dr. Jan Davis on

The Lenten journey can be a very meaningful spiritual experience for any Christian believer. Whether or not you grew up in a Christian tradition that observed the season of Lent, we can all benefit from experiencing this sacred season. Lent is a time to draw near to God and grow stronger in our spiritual walk.

Lent is a period of forty days, not counting Sundays, preceding Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness (Matt 4: 1-11, Mark 1: 12-13, Luke 4: 1-13), enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his earthly ministry. Lent is a time for us to wander through the wilderness of our lives and learn to walk closely with the One who loves us.

John Wesley (the founder of Methodism in the 18th Century) understood Lent as a time of repentance, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a time set aside in the life of the church for self-examination. We put our lives and our behavior under God’s microscope and seek ways we can ask God to improve us.

We repent of negative thoughts and behavior and turn ourselves completely to God. We practice fasting, abstention or self-denial as a way to strengthen ourselves. As we endeavor to say “no” to our cravings for small things, we learn about ourselves and become better at saying “no” to future temptations.

Lent is also a time for almsgiving or giving to the poor. Some find it meaningful to “give up” something they enjoy for a forty-day period of time, for example, that drive-thru cup of coffee. The money saved over the forty days could then be given to benefit the suffering, poor or needy. What a blessing when our small sacrifices add up to benefit another. This spiritual practice can become a wonderful habit lasting long past the Lenten season.

Every year as I wander through Lent, I learn something about myself. Mostly I recognize how much I need Jesus Christ and how dependent I am on the Holy Spirit to improve in the spiritual life. I have a greater awareness of my own weaknesses and where I need God to strengthen me. I am flooded with a renewed presence of God’s Holy Spirit. I find God’s love, peace, joy, holiness, and righteousness are somehow imparted to me. I cannot attain improvement on my own, and I am humbly aware of my utter reliance on God.

Recently, a church member gave me ideas for a different way to fast during Lent:

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and be filled with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, how will you observe this Lenten season?

-Dr. Jan Davis
Central's Senior Pastor


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