In my life I have done some things that would be considered, well, edgy. For example, years ago I observed Ramadan, not for the same reasons Muslims do, but in solidarity with my Muslim friends who were suffering in the aftermath of 9-11. I also used that time to pray for the world of Islam and my desire to see Christ proclaimed and accepted there.

We evangelicals tend to shy away from anything that even remotely sounds like penitential acts. We are afraid that we might be tempted to think that these things in and of themselves will help us achieve godliness. But that is nonsense. All we have to do is look inside ourselves and we will quickly realize how impossible that is. My sins are too real to allow me to fool myself, even for a second.

For example, Jesus did not speak against fasting. He only warned us not to do it for the wrong reasons (Matthew 6:16-18).

So this year I am observing Lent. Why? Here are my reasons:

1. It will allow me to focus more intentionally on the work that my Lord did for me at the cross.

2. It will allow me to force myself to give up some things I really treasure. By doing so, I will be able to walk in the shoes of the majority of the rest of the world for whom deprivation is a way of life. I will also be able to help some causes I am usually not in position to help.

3. It will make the Resurrection Sunday experience even more exciting to me this year.

And what is “lent” anyway, you may ask… Well, the word in the majority of other languages literally refers to 40 days, a traditional reference to the temptation of Jesus by the Devil. “Quaresma,” in Portuguese, “Cuaresma” in Spanish. In English it is derived from the German and it means “long,” a reference to the days of spring which naturally seem longer, although they seem pretty far away to me right now…

Different Christian traditions follow different calendars but the most common one starts the day of Ash Wednesday (March 5 this year) and ends on the Thursday before Easter (April 17 this year).

In general, I will follow the three practices of lent, which are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and helping the poor (justice towards neighbor).

In addition to giving up things that are precious to me, I will be following the daily lent devotional provided by CRU (formerly Campus Crusade) and will be blogging here about subjects I normally don’t write about.

If you would like to follow along with me, please let me know by leaving a comment. I will also be interested in your stories about lent 2014.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade