Why My Easter Memories Now Include Lent

By on February 27, 2012

My Easter memories for the past fifteen years include memories of observing Lent. But I grew up in a church that didn’t observe Lent. I didn’t even know Lent involved fasting.

Learning about Lent
When my husband and I lived in Amman, Jordan, we became friends with a family whose roots were in the Orthodox church. Once we visited their home in Karak during the Lenten season. While there, the daughters introduced us to Lent. “We apologize for not serving you meat,” they explained, “because we’re observing Lent. That means we abstain from eating meat, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese the forty weekdays before Easter Sunday. We begin our Lenten fast on Ash Wednesday, but on Sundays we don’t fast.”

Levels of Fasting
Orthodox Christians recognize five levels of fasting for Lent. The first level involves abstaining from meat. The second level adds eggs, milk, butter, and cheese to the fast list. The third level adds fish, and the fourth level adds oil and wine to the fast list. The fifth level includes abstaining from all foods and beverages except bread, water, juices, honey, and nuts. Some say level five was John the Baptist’s diet.

My First Lenten Fast
When the next Easter season arrived, I heard the gentle voice of the Spirit telling me I needed to observe Lent. That I needed to choose something to fast from for forty days to remind me of Jesus’ sacrifice for me on the Cross. Something to help me remember His suffering for my sake.

The first year I observed Lent I gave up chocolate in any form-candy, cake, or chocolate-chip cookies. Whenever I turned down chocolate, I thanked my Savior for loving me. In those fasting moments of reflection, I felt drawn to Jesus and spiritually renewed. My celebration of Easter took on a fresh, new meaning.

Yes to Lent
A Lenten fast isn’t a method for earning God’s favor. Nor is it a way to manipulate God. Fasting makes me aware of Christ’s willingness to suffer for me. Fasting helps me to say yes to the cross He ask me to bear. Fasting reminds me of my dependence upon God. Observing Lent allows me to purposefully open the book of my heart, hear the Spirit’s voice, and follow God’s plot for my life. That’s why I continue to add Lenten memories to my Easter celebrations.

 

Originally posted on Yahoo.com.

About Pat Stockett Johnston

Pat is a Southern Cal based freelance writer of articles, devotionals, and books; wife of Gordon; mother of Beverly, Keith, Joanne, and Craig; grandma to seven of the smartest kids around. I grow chrysanthemums for show competitions. Learn writing tips on her blog: http://patstockettjohnston.blogspot.com/.

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Why My Easter Memories Now Include Lent