From the pastor’s pen

The Lenten season begins March 6th.  Lent is the season of fasting and self-denial observed by many Christians in the days preceding Easter Sunday.  The word “Lent” is from a word meaning “lengthening days” with the Lenten season consisting of 40 fast days as days lengthen in early spring.  Since Easter is based each year on the lunar calendar, Lent dates vary from year to year.  However, each year begins on Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is a time persons make their way to church to receive an imprint of ashes on their forehead in the form of a cross.  These are to remind us of our mortality and our dependence on God as well as the sacrifice of Christ, which makes it possible for sinful mortals to go to God.  Why is Lent forty days?  Forty is a significant number in the Bible.  It is a number associated with anticipation and preparation. Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai to receive the Law, Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised land and most memorable, Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness before his temptations.

     Today Lent lasts six and one-half weeks, with forty fast days between Ash Wednesday and Easter (April 21).  Sundays have not been included in the fast days.

     Lent is viewed as a time for Self-Denial and Sacrificial abstention   What do persons give up for Lent?  What persons give up for Lent varies from person to person.  Some give up meat and only eat fish in their diet.  Some choose to abstain from something they enjoy such as coffee, sugary goods, television, cigarettes, alcohol, fast foods for the entire Lenten Season.  Some choose to fast from all food one day a week to devote themselves to prayer and meditation on the work of Christ.  At Zion, we ask that we sacrifice $1.00 per day in Lenten Gleaners to benefit the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to benefit college students in their educational pursuits.

     While we see Lent as a time of sacrifice and denial, what does this period do for us?  It could be a time of self-discipline.  Why do this only forty days?  It is a wonderful time to pray and fast with God.  Allow yourself in these forty days to walk more closely with God and increase our faith and trust.  There is something that we all can fast during the Lenten Season.                             



Yours in God’s Service,

Pastor James H. Cantrell

Pastor, Zion Baptist Church