Do we want to be ready to celebrate the resurrection, or the incarnation? If you, like Mrs. Marshall, want to be ready on April 21, begin with this next Sunday. Turn away from little fasts of your own choosing, of what you will eat, or drink, or wear. Instead, seek the Lord where, and how, He has promised to be found; in the ordinary means of His grace.
Amid the typical blog posts and social media debates this week regarding the practice of Lent, one post was remarkable. Suzanne Marshall’s guest post on the PCACDM blog enCourage took the position that some practice of Lent, ideally practiced in community, is a commendable and even beneficial practice. This is not the historic or confessionally Presbyterian belief regarding Lent, so to find such an article in an official PCA publication is noteworthy and a cause for concern.
A number of good and godly writers have examined the ways in which Lent is not a biblical practice, and is incompatible with the Reformed and Presbyterian confessions. In the same way, a number of excellent resources presenting the questionable history and development of Lenten practice are available from qualified authors. However, Suzanne Marshall offers women the hope that participating in Lent will prepare their hearts for worship on Easter, and will awaken in them a greater love for Jesus. This is a serious claim that deserves a serious examination.
Marshall addresses a very real problem that believers of both sexes through all of church history have battled. We have all, at some point, found ourselves in the middle of a sermon, having no idea what has been said because we have been preoccupied by upcoming lunch, unfinished tasks, or other cares of our daily life. As she so poignantly noted, we find ourselves on a Sunday afternoon wondering how we have let the resurrection be snatched from us. The idea of practices such as Lent and Advent appeal to hearts seeking greater communion with God. Our lives are so full of chasing after what we will eat, what we will drink, and what we will wear, but we long to seek after the kingdom. Doesn’t something like Lent and Advent re-orient our mind to seek first the kingdom, like Jesus commanded in the gospels?
The Lord, speaking through Isaiah, tells us no. In Isaiah 58:3, the people of God ask, “Why have we fasted and You do