Ministers: Lent’s not just tradition

Published 2:19 am Friday, March 8, 2019

Ministers in local churches that observe Lenten traditions said many believers have lost sight of the reason Christians are encouraged to give up something during the season.

Lent, which began on Wednesday, is the 40 days, not counting Sundays, that lead up to Easter Sunday. Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.

“The Bible says to deny ourselves and take up our cross,” the Rev. Cindy Howard of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church said. “It’s a way to deny ourselves.”

People not only give things up, but will use things with the time that they have acquired through giving something up, Howard said.

“For example, some people will give up a fancy coffee every morning and use that money and donate it to charity,” Howard said. “Or someone might say that they are going to give up Facebook and take that time they would have spent on Facebook and use it towards praying.”

Howard said that some people are still giving things up for the sake of giving things up.

“I think a lot of times, people just give up things and they don’t even know the meaning behind why they are giving it up,” Howard said. “Some people even add things on like reading the bible every day, but if they know the meaning then it is drawing you closer to God and that is the purpose of it all.”

She said that Lent is a time to prepare for the Easter feast.

“It is a time to draw closer to God whatever way that fits you best,” she said.

The Rev. David McMillan from St. Michael’s Anglican Church said that people give something up because it is what they think they’re supposed to do, but that’s not always the right thing to do.

“You have to look at what you’re giving up,” McMillan said. “I mean some people give up chocolate and that’s not right, that’s just dieting. You have to get down to the root of the issue, which is what do I need to give up that is bad in my life that I can’t get rid of, like a specific sin. You have to look at that little three letter word, because that is what really matters.”

McMillan said that he has been studying the issue himself because it has gotten interesting.

“It is a little more difficult than just giving up something,” McMillan said. “Like last night at our service somebody said that they were going to add something instead of giving up something and I said, ‘Well, that’s not the point.’ You have to go back to what you are trying to do, which is what is God trying to get me to do. What can I give up that will free me from all of my notorious ways.”

He said that the meaning of Lent is to have a 40-day reality check of a person’s life.

“I think we have gotten away from the true meaning of Lent,” McMillan said. “We are supposed to be drawing nearer to Christ on the cross. We use these 40 days as a way to ask ourselves, ‘What does God want me to do?’ That way I can be active instead of just playing church.”