Has Lent gone the way of rotary telephones and black-and-white television? Is it among the relics of a bygone era? If so, the Church will have lost part of her soul to the intrusion of secular values.
Early Lenten preaching taught mutual forgiveness and forbearance among church members. It encouraged prayer, biblical instruction in giving and strict abstention from food. Lenten disciplines reminded both the careless Christian and the devout: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Foregoing some pleasure as a voluntary act of self-denial symbolic of repentance was a standard expectation. “What are you giving up for Lent?” became a common conversation starter. It was the same spirit of sacrifice as a spiritual discipline that led the Salvation Army’s Founder William Booth in 1886 to announce his plan to give what…
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