Give It Up For Lent

I love the light, flaky meat of a fish fry served in countless taverns and bar across around our country.  In fact the term “Friday Fish Fry” is common in many of these towns.  Some of these fine establishments make a name for themselves by having the best or the biggest fish fry in town.  Why fish on Fridays?  Why not “Monday Fish Fries”?  Aside from a lack of alliteration, there isn’t a good reason.  This is where we jump into the season of Lent.

Lent is the forty-day season of the church year when Christians remember the passion (suffering) of Jesus.  The season comes to a crescendo on Good Friday when we remember Jesus dying on the cross.

One of the many customs in the season is fasting, that is, to give up something for all or some of the days.  The reason for this is to help us think about Jesus.  The Old Testament Christians were required to fast one day as a spiritual preparation for the Great Day of Atonement.  God has not commanded us to fast in the New Testament, however if you feel that want to, there is nothing wrong with it.  Some will give up a favorite food, such as chocolate.  Every time you start to crave chocolate but deny yourself you are to think about Jesus and what he did for you.

The Catholic church takes this idea a little farther by requiring all of its members to fast on Fridays.  This also brings us back to the fish.  There is nothing wrong with eating fish or steak on any day of the week.  Anytime there are man-made laws in the church that bind our Christian freedom where God has not there is a danger for the Christian.  Will following these laws, eating fish on Fridays, make God love me more?  Am I a better Christian for not eating chocolate?  The answer to questions like these is a resounding no.  In Matthew 23 Jesus rebukes the Pharisees of his day and today for adding rules where God has not.

Lent isn’t a season for added rules, rather it is a time to remember the depth of Jesus’ love, the great lengths he went to that we might be saved from our sins.  If eating fish or not eating chocolate will help you focus on Jesus, God’s blessings on your Lenten preparation.