By Rev. Christie John

“Lent” is the name given to the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter (not counting Sundays) when Christians have traditionally prepared themselves in heart, mind and spirit for Holy Week remembrances of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

When the church was very young, this was a time to educate and prepare people who wanted to be baptized on Easter Sunday.  Lent is still a special time for learning and growing, a time to reflect deeply upon our own need for God’s grace and for the amazing love that brought Jesus to the cross and beyond.

Many people enter into spiritual practices during Lent which help open them to God’s transforming presence.  The three practices that are especially associated with Lent are fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

During a fast, we give up something that is a normal part of our day in order to focus our attention on God. Time normally spent on preparing and eating food, for example, can be spent in prayer.

A fast helps us “interrupt” our daily routines and make sacred space to reflect on God’s goodness. It also provides an opportunity to recognize the many comforts that we enjoy (like chocolate, filling meals and even a computer or an internet connection), to be mindful of those who lack even basic necessities and to be grateful for all that we have been given.

If you are not able to abstain from food, you might consider a fast from something else that is a normal part of your day – perhaps surfing the web or watching television or even speaking unless spoken to.

Fasting is not always easy, but it is a time-honored way to stop, remember and give thanks.