A Christian perspective



Lent has been known as an observance of the Catholic Church and a few protestant churches for many years. Today, it is growing in popularity among Baptists and many other groups, though they avoid the use of the traditional terminology of liturgical churches.

Lent is a season of 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays. Lent has been observed by Christians at least from the early second century. The word “Lent” is from the Anglo-Saxon “Lencten,” meaning spring. For hundreds of years, it has been observed as a period of deepening the devotional life of faithful Christians looking forward to the joyous triumph of Easter. The victory of spring over matter, of life over death, of God’s creating and renewing love over the worst human cruelty and blindness can do.

In the church, Lent has been observed by preaching and worship centered in the life, teaching and sacrificial death of Christ. The importance of Lent to the church is evidenced in special noonday services, prayer meetings, and study and training sessions. Individual Lenten practices are biblically based and consist of participation in church worship services (Matthew 18:30), self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5), prayer and reflection (Matthew 6:6), fasting (Matthew 9:15), studying scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), doing good deeds, and charitable giving (Matthew 6:1).

Lenten observances have been sustained by churches over many centuries in order to develop true disciples, not merely superficial professors of the faith. For the individual desiring a closer walk with God, Lent and its practices offer an opportunity for repentance and renewal, which can be very rewarding.

Dr. Wilkerson is the minister of Valley East Baptist Church in Pinson.