Lagos – Lent which started last Wednesday/ Ash Wednesday is described to be a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar that ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. It is also a time when many Christians commit to fasting and give up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Within these forty days most orthodox churches hold services everyday to get members acquainted with what is expected of them as true followers of Christ. It is also a period that many Christians use in identifying with what Jesus Christ went through before his earthly public ministry. Inasmuch as this period is highly recognised in Christendom, there are several schools of thought concerning it. Some Christians do not agree to its observance as they believe the word (Lent) cannot be found in the Bible, while some Christians believe fasting should not be made public to avoid going contrary to the scriptures. These differences and more led Independent Faith views to speak with individuals and clerics on the scriptural backing of the period, its significance and perhaps how it can be effectively observed. Excerpts:
There is nothing like Lent in the Bible, though as a kid who was never reading the Bible and who followed his dad to an Orthodox church (Methodist Church). l saw it as a Christian thing. But growing up and studying the Bible for religious and other purposes, l have never come across a place where Lent is mentioned in the Bible, but fasting is there in Isaiah 58 for who would really do the one that is for spiritual purposes, and not heathenistic one like Lent.
Lent is not Biblical. Personal encounter with Christ can lead you into a fast without announcing to the world. It would be a time you fast your food (anything that gives pleasure) in order to concentrate on God. It is a time you concede things that are rightly yours to others not as privileged as you. When none of these happen during your fast, then you are dieting via religion.
Evangelist Olowu Peter
The Bible per say did not mention lent but talks about fasting and prayers. Lent is a period of fasting and prayers to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Brotherhood of Cross and Star where I belong we observe fasting every Thursday for the singular purpose of identifying with the suffering of Christ.
Pastor Jude Aguh
People should concentrate more on the spiritual aspect of fasting rather than taking it as a religious exercise that should be performed. Lent is about what Jesus observed before his persecution and crucification. When things like fasting are done carnally there is no reward from God. Why some Pentecostals have some reservations about it is that some persons who observe lent do it for formality sake and do not see it as a form of spiritual exercise or a time of separation. This is not to say there are no Christians in the orthodox denomination who are genuinely observing the lent season. Again, some persons in the Pentecostal feel fasting should not be a public thing which I agree with when carried out on personal ground but do not concur when it is done collectively. For example Esther called for a fast amongst her people, the Jews according to the Bible. I do not think there is anything wrong with making fasting publicly announced when to be observed collectively like I said before.
Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu
Lent season is the time of giving oneself more to prayers, almsgiving and discipline. In the Bible we have so many instances of where fasting was recommended. For example, in the city of Nineveh where Jonah was asked by God to preach, the people there had to fast and sat in ash which is a sign of remorse or penitence which the lent is also about. Fasting occupies part of different religions. In Islam there is a period called Ramadan where the Muslim faithful observe fast. For us as Christians and Roman Catholics, we only have one full meal this period, which is to identify with what the less privileged go through and what Christ went through during his 40 days of fast. For those who do not believe lent is scriptural, it is because of ignorance and I cannot slice my nose to save my face in making them know that lent is scriptural. My advice at this time is that those observing the fast should be prayerful and forgive others so that their heavenly father would forgive them of their transgressions as well.