J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Celebrating Lent in a Small Town

I have never practiced Lent as an act of devotion and worship.  Growing up, I’m quite sure I never even heard of it.  In college, I had friends walking around campus with smudges of ash on the foreheads, and I was pretty sure they were crazy.  Since then, I have learned the season’s background and have met many people who consider it as a incredibly serious and intimate act of worship.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year, February 17, 2010) and for many, they observe it with a 40 day fast of something as an act of repentance and faith.  This fast ends in the celebration of Easter (Jesus’ resurrection).  Nowhere in scripture is fasting for Lent commanded or even mentioned.  It is a holiday that the ancient church created and has practiced for hundreds of years.

As with any traditions or man-made observances, empty orthodoxy creeps in and the act of ashes on the head and fasting become rote and ceremonial.  For others however, it is an essential element of their faith preparing their heart for the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death.

I spent some time in the past few days interacting with people in Garner asking them if they had celebrated Lent and if they were going to, what would their fast be.  I was surprised to find out how many people have celebrated Lent in their lifetime.  Some expressed that they had not in years, but none spoke of it as a dead practice.  For most, it was something in which they longed to return.

Examples of people’s intended fast ranged from entertainment to vices, but the two things most people wanted to fast from were caffeine and Facebook.  I guess everyone feels they are over relying on coffee and the computer for energy and connectivity.  Finding energy and connectivity through Christ would be a good thing.

Declaring my intention to fast (and what I’m fasting from) would personally contradict the spirit of the season I think, so whether or not I will is left to your imagination.  I do know that for some, fasting draws their heart and mind closer to Christ which is never a bad thing.


February 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. I was Catholic and practiced Lent growing up – it was always sweets that I gave up. Never was it explained to me that this was a time of reflection, fasting and orienting my heart back to Jesus. It was always explained to me that Jesus made a sacrifice, so I could too -that it was only 40 days and I could make that sacrifice for 40 days. We always talked at school about what we were giving up.

    Comment by Katie | February 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks, Katie. I love hearing everyone’s stories as this is the first year I’ve considered it.

      Comment by jgordonduncan | February 17, 2010 | Reply

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