The Lenten Journey: Pentecostal Lent
Though I am part of the Foursquare denomination now, I grew up in the Lutheran church. It’s a pretty big switch going from a very liturgical setting to a pentecostal one. While I love the way the Spirit keeps surprising me in this new denomination, there are times when I miss the liturgy of my old tradition.
There’s something to be said about fresh and inviting prophetic words from God. While I’m still getting used to it, speaking in tongues has become a part of my normal prayer process. I haven’t yet seen a healing miracle, but I’ve been a part of those who have prayed for them. I’ve even had a vision of the throne of God. For a person who has never seen anything beyond his two eyes, that was incredibly shocking.
Yet every year during Lent, I miss my old tradition. I’ve yet to be in a pentecostal setting that actually talks about Lent, much less celebrates it. Pentecostalism is big on entering into the gifts of the Spirit, on preparing for the day of Jesus’s return. I guess it seems strange that such a time of preparing for the most holy day of our church calendar (Easter) receives such little attention.
Maybe Lent feels too ritualistic. I mean, what does God care that you gave up eating cookies for forty days? Perhaps there’s some confusion about what roll Lent plays in the life of a Christian. My old tradition encouraged giving up something each year in honor of Christ’s sacrifice. I gave up Mountain Dew one year. I’d never say I drank too much of the stuff, but I certainly felt the effects if I went without it for a day. Giving it up during Lent that year broke its hold on me. I set it aside to honor Jesus’s sacrifice; I ended up being freed from it’s grasp.
See, Lent isn’t just some ritual. There’s no commandment that says, “thou shalt give up for forty days.” It’s not like we become somehow less in his eye if we don’t. Given the amount of stuff we have in this country, perhaps Lent can take on a different role for American Christians.
Consider this: if you make over $35,000 per year (before taxes), you’re in the top 1% income bracket of the world. If the high-church feel of Lent bothers you, perhaps consider giving up something for forty days as a kind of spiritual discipline, one that helps us focus on him and prepares us for his coming. Heck, learning to do without is a kind of spiritual discipline we Americans have forgotten.
By celebrating Lent and giving up something we treasure—even something so small as Mountain Dew—we enter into a shared history that prepares for the coming of Jesus, the return of our almighty king. Lent ties us to a two-thousand-year-old community and joins our voice with all those who worship God.
Through Lent, we enter into the sacrifice of those who came before us, those who will come after us, and the One who’s sacrifice gave us hope and freedom.
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