Why the church I went to did not celebrate Lent is still unknown to me, but as I talk to other Baptist friends, the common reasons I hear for why they do not celebrate Lent include: 1.) What is Lent? 2.) Isn't Lent Catholic? 3.) We celebrate Easter. Here are my reflections on these three replies to my inquiries about Lent.
What is Lent? Lent is the Christian season of preparation for Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter, not including Sundays. Lent is a time when many Christians "fast" from something or add something to their spiritual formation, and focus on repentance and reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering, sacrifice, life, death, burial, and resurrection. Lent has been practiced by the Christian church, as early as the second or third century.
Isn't Lent Catholic? Simply, no. The Catholic Church celebrates Lent, but Lent is an important part of the Christian calendar, not only one denomination of Christianity. Lent has been and will continue to be celebrated by Christian churches of all denominations.
We Celebrate Easter. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Easter (in fact, I encourage it), but in doing so, that does not eliminate the possibility for celebrating Lent as a time of preparation for Easter. There is great significance placed on the number forty as a time of preparation and God's movement in the lives of God's people. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness as God prepared them to receive the promised land. Jesus was alone for 40 days as Satan tempted him while he prepared for his coming ministry. 40 days is significant in the Bible and is why Lent is 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday.
Can Baptists celebrate Lent? The answer is yes, for so many reasons (i.e. Priesthood of the Believer, Autonomy of the Local Church, Soul Competency, etc.), but the main reason is that there is never anything wrong about setting aside time to focus on the work of Christ in salvation and how we are to be part of his ongoing work of salvation in the world.