When I was in highschool I practiced Lent. It was pretty much a joke and simply a way for me to put myself on yet another diet. It was great; fast for 6 days of the week and gorge yourself on Sundays. I totally missed the point and made it about me instead of using the time for reflecting on the suffering, sacrifice, life and death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. As I understand it, Lent is supposed to be a time of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. Of course, anything can be turned into a practice in legalism and self righteousness but I'm wondering if I have matured enough in my faith to give it another shot.
When Phillip and I were studying in Israel we "celebrated" the Day of Atonement (Yom Kipper) which is a genuine biblical fast that lasts 25 hours and forbids both food and drink (even water). The purpose is to reflect on one's sinfulness and is the culmination of the "Days of Awe" that preceed it. A fascinating study if you have the time, but if you do look in to it you will soon realize how drastically different the perspective of those that celebrate it today when you contrast it with the picture it was supposed to paint when it was given in Leviticus 23:27-32
In a world with no temple, there can be no sacrifice and Hebrew 9:22 says that "Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgivness" so it makes sense that one would substitute good works, prayers and dead chickens for the atonemtent that was made for the people (for, not by) but I digress... or do I?
Lent cannot be compared to the Day of Atonement or the Days of Awe because it is neither mandated nor mentioned in the Bible that I know of. However I think one can easily see a parallel between the Biblical Jewish celebration and the traditional Christian celebration so this year I am entering the season of Lent with a zeal to persue introspection, reflection, repentance and rejoicing as I prepaire for Easter, after all, we pretty much spend Thanksgiving until Christmas ( which was 34 days in 2007) ramping up for the big day. Why shouldn't Easter get a little more early attention?
For more on how the Yom Kipper anticipates Easter read this, a little long, but well worth it.
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