About this time each year, we start hearing the term 'Lent' popping up and how it can be a really beneficial thing to have a go at. And although it's a pretty big deal in some other churches, often it's a term we have no idea about.
So here's our run down on Lent!
Lent refers to the Lenten Season, which is the 40-day period (not counting the six Sundays) before Easter. It's also known as 'Quadragesima', which means forty in Latin, and runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (with a heap of other cool terms like Holy Week, Passion Sunday, Spy Wednesday and Maundy Thursday scattered between).
This 40 day period is traditionally used by the Christian Church as a time for reflecting on what it means to follow Christ, and resolving to live as a follower of Christ in the world.
The 40 day concept is meant to parallel the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry - which is why people will often commit to a form of 'fasting' or temporarily giving up certain types of luxury during this time. Fasting (or going without) is about coming to understand there is nothing we can do to make ourselves more acceptable to God - we are accepted as we are. It can also help focus us on our journey with Jesus in difficult times and remind us that we depend on God for everything.
Fasting during Lent can include giving up certain foods, Facebook or buying new gadgets and clothes. Each time you crave or think about the thing you are going without, remind yourself of your dependence on God for what you need and the sacrifice he made for you at Easter.
How to get participate:
Lent 2017 begins Wednesday 1 March (Ash Wednesday). You can kick things off with Shrove Tuesday - which in modern tradition, people will hang out with friends and eat a stack of pancakes.
A cool intiative is the '40 Acts' challenge. It encourages participants to 'do Lent generously' and spend the 40 days of Lent giving back, doing good and living generously through daily challenges. Check out www.40acts.org.uk for more info.
Have a think whether Lent is something you may want to do this year, get some friends to journey through it with you and have a mean feed of pancakes before it kicks off!
Are you having a go at Lent this year? What are you giving up? Share your thoughts below.