Christians across the world are on Lent, observing the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. JAMES CHIMPWEYA had a chat with CCAP Blantyre Synod Blantyre City Presbytery Clerk Rev Baxton Maulidi, who is also moderator of Mount Pleasant CCAP Congregation.
What is Lent?
Lent is a time when Christians all over the world turn their attention to the suffering of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered because man disobeyed through Adam and Eve and God wanted to reconcile with man, but through a price and Jesus was the chosen price to redeem mankind. It comes once a year and is observed mainly in the first-quarter of the year—between March and April.
For how long and how is this special period observed?
The actual period is 40 days. It starts with Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40 days. It is a time when Christians are expected to commit themselves to prayer and fasting. This is done to commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:47-28:8).
What else happens in the 40 days?
Some of the chronological orders of Lent are Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, the Holy Week, Good Friday (Crucifixion), and Easter Sunday (Resurrection).
Specifically, how are these events observed?
Holy Week: This is the final week of Lent. It starts with Palm Sunday that symbolises Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). This is the time Jesus was about to face the betrayal, denial and the rest of the events that happened up to His crucifixion. On the night before His crucifixion, He had prepared a mass with His disciples where He revealed to them that He would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot and rejected and the rest would run away. All this happened—Jesus died and was laid to rest on Friday and on the third day He resurrected. This was the birth of Christianity.
What is spiritual or Lenten discipline?
It is encouraged to take on a Lenten discipline—spending time to worship, praying and reading the Bible and other spiritual books. This is done to help us to draw the attention of our Creator so that our sins are forgiven. During this period, Christians need to observe, spiritual discipline so that they can commemorate well. Before Easter, the following stages must be observed by Christians.
Why should people fast during Lent?
People should fast to bring themselves closer to God and this should not be only the church but starting with individuals, family or Church. They need to have time of reflection and self-examination, amid fasting. We are supposed to stay away from things that we love most such as eating, etc. It is encouraged to take on a Lenten discipline—spending time to worship, praying and reading the Bible and other spiritual books. This is done to help us to draw the attention of our Creator so that our sins are forgiven.
Where in the Bible should people draw the lessons for Lent?
So many lessons about love, individuals, families, the nation, the aspect of forgiveness and resurrection of Christ as follows:
Love: John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world so much that He gave His only son that everyone who believe in him may not die but have eternal life” it took the love of God to send the only beloved son to come and die for us. Because God loved us even when we never loved Him. We are obliged to show love to one another in a holistic way.
Individuals: Because everyone was created in the image of God it is a sin to hate one another because by doing so we hate God. And the Bible in 1 John 3:15 says whoever hates his brother or sister is a murderer.
Families: Spouses are encouraged to stay in love and trust; It is too dangerous to misuse the holy season by spending our time with other peoples wives and husbands elsewhere or spending hours drinking beer because Christ died to liberate us from sin of this nature.
Nation: Malawi is a very peaceful nation with kind and lovely people but we need to do more on Love. Love must be sincere (Romans 12: 9-21) we need to be practical in our Christianity. As children of God we must learn to take collective responsibility on issues affecting our neighbours. We should desist from the attitude of shifting the blame and fault-finding. We must walk the talk and build in us an attitude of gratitude so that we can encourage one another and become a brother’s keeper.
Forgiveness: The coming of Jesus Christ was an indication that God had forgiven mankind because of the fall after man had disobeyed God in Genesis 3:1-24 when man was sent out of the Garden of Eden. In other words man was sent out of the presence of God.
The word Easter itself comes from pagan traditions and the Church converted them to convey Christian principles in its nature.
Resurrection: The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the birth of our Christian faith. And its time of joy, hymn celebration and light. Let it be understood that this is the most important time of our lives. Let us all join hands and promote love, forgiveness and trust in the lord. n