Dr. Michael Layne
Greensburg Daily News
Back in December, I was at a local fast food place.
While standing in line, I overheard the guy in front of me ask for a fish sandwich. The cashier was polite and said, “We only have fish during Lent.” To which the customer asked, “Okay, what day of the week is that?”
I wasn’t going to explain Advent to this gentleman because if he didn’t know about Lent, he probably knew nothing about Lent. I know, it’s a bit funny for those of us who practice the Holy seasons of the Church, but in reality, this gentleman represents a lot of people, both Christian and non-Christian.
I grew up without the knowledge of Holy days and seasons. I was told that those were reserved for Catholics and we Christians did not observe such things. Okay, I have strayed for those teachings. I’m a product of the 50s and 60s and there in lies the act of certain rebellion.
Not all Protestants feel the same way about Holy days and seasons of the church. Many do practice alongside with our Catholic and Orthodox families. I say “families” because we are the people of God, are we not? We are brothers and sisters in His kingdom.
So, what is so special about Lent? Ash Wednesday is this coming week, on Feb. 13. There will be services at some of our churches where you will be able to attend beginning of the season of Lent. Some will take the sign of the cross upon their foreheads with ashes. This is a representation of the practice we read about throughout scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, as people would place ashes upon their head.
Lent is a special time of abstinence, charity and fasting. Granted, these are acts we should be doing throughout the year but, Lent is a focused time for us to work on our spiritual and physical lives.
Lent is a 40-day journey which bears relationship to the 40 days of fasting which Jesus did prior to entering His public ministry. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Fasting is a Biblical principle which really draws us closer to the Lord. It is a denial of certain things we usually partake of in life. Some say they cannot fast for a long term due to health conditions. I understand that and yet there may be an opportunity to do a partial fast. The Lord will certainly help you and give you guidance in that matter.
As we begin the journey, don’t consider it a religious thing to do but an offering of ourselves to the Lord. Find goodness and reach out to those in need. I think Lent is a great time to rehearse certain practices that we need to continue throughout the year.
Don’t forget to attend an Ash Wednesday service somewhere this Wednesday. If you have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, consider going and, even if you just sit in the pew and observe, that’s okay.
The Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 614-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.