Faith Matters - Spring training for ChristiansIn a number of church traditions, the 40 day period (not counting Sundays) prior to Easter is called Lent. The term comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means “lengthen,” as in the lengthening of days in the spring of the year. Lent began this year on February 22, Ash Wednesday.
By: Kent Stillson, Pastor, Alexandria Echo Press
In a number of church traditions, the 40 day period (not counting Sundays) prior to Easter is called Lent. The term comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means “lengthen,” as in the lengthening of days in the spring of the year. Lent began this year on February 22, Ash Wednesday.
Traditionally, Lent is a season of spiritual renewal and self-reflection.
A friend recently referred to Lent as “spring training for Christians.” His reasoning? Baseball players go to spring training to get in shape for the new season, to acquire new skills as well as to brush up on the fundamental baseball skills they already possess.
More than a few ball players go to spring training to lose weight in order to be in prime condition for the rigors of a lengthy season.
Though Christians should never have an “off season,” many of us do need a discipline for getting into spiritual shape. The biblical writer of Hebrews 12 encourages Christians to “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” in order to pursue peace with others and receive the grace of God.
One common spiritual discipline for Lent is to give something up (fast) for the season, either a favorite food or drink. It is a misconception to think we give something up during Lent as a punishment for sin or as a way of earning God’s favor.
More accurately, the reason to fast is to use it as a reminder to pray and think about Jesus. Whenever the urge to eat or drink the fasting item, the impulse is fed with prayer and thanksgiving to Jesus for giving up his life for us.
Some Christians, instead of giving something up for Lent, add a spiritual dimension to their life. They choose to attend an additional mid-week worship service or begin a new Bible study. Others begin a prayer journal to record conversations with God or embark on a new adventure of Christian service.
Consider Lent this year. It’s not something we are compelled to do; it is a season of spiritual growth we are invited into. Joining with others in this annual spring training for Christians can get us into better spiritual condition for those times in life that are difficult and dangerous.
God desires to have a close relationship with us. This can happen with spring training for the soul. The rigors of life are many. You need not go through it alone. Lent – try it out.
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 3:18)
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Kent Stillson, a pastor at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Alexandria, writes to help people connect their life and faith. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.