Re-post from last year with some additions:
And, granted, there’s no command to commemorate the birth, death, or resurrection of Christ, but the way we do those things is through ordinary worship – gathering together as the people of God to sing, pray, receive his Word, and observe the sacraments. Wonderful! But on Ash Wednesday, folks get together to do those things and smear ash on their foreheads. Jesus gave his church two beautiful gospel pictures – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Ash Wednesday adds a 3rd picture not ordained by Jesus or commanded by God. Adding things not prescribed by Scripture to worship is not wise.
I believe it is (as many observers of Ash Wednesday and the Lent season it kicks off point out) beneficial to think on our sin and our need for repentance; to actually repent. I believe that prayer and fasting are a good way to do this (though as I noted in a post several years ago, what typically happens in Lent is not really fasting). I believe that meditating on our sinfulness and need is helpful preparation for truly appreciating the resurrection of Jesus. But I also believe that Jesus himself gave us the perfect way to do that. It is by remembering his finished work in our observance of the Lord’s Supper. Here we remember and have our faith fed by what He has done. Ash Wednesday and Lent dangerously try to reproduce in our lives what Jesus went through in 40 days in the wilderness which tends to emphasize what we do. Dear friends, Jesus underwent that experience in the wilderness so I don’t have to! He earned acceptance with the Father because I never could.
Richard Barcellos from last year:
Recently, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) site posted a blog entry entitled – “Lent Is About Jesus: A Free Devotional Guide.” No, I did not make that up… As I read the post and thought about it a bit, I concluded I would like to respond to it. So, as many of you do on various blogs, I sent a comment to that post. Before sending the comment, however, I sent copies of my response to a few friends, just to make sure I was responding correctly and clearly. They encouraged me to post my thoughts…
This is not helpful to me as an individual or, especially, as a pastor. It creates more work for me.
Days after that post, Tom Chantry chimed in as well:
It has slowly dawned on me this week that the folks at The Gospel Coalition have reached down from their lofty pinnacle to tell the rest of us that Lent is all about Jesus and that we really ought to consider celebrating it. Childish practice turns sinister when respected pastors tell me that I ought to engage in it. How should I respond?
In the above post Jeremy Walker’s post, from a year before, was quoted:
“Frankly, it seems odd to me that many of those who have proved very quick to abandon all manner of patterns and habits and convictions of Christians over decades or centuries, retain Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection) Sunday as set in stone in the calendar, one of the high points of the Christian year (which pattern, we are informed, provides the central event in the church year – the climax of worship, expectation, and celebration, an exercise of the church’s discipline). If you’re not sold on Easter, you might be dismissed as one of the “diehard Reformed” for whom “this [Easter] Monday is like every other Monday because Easter Sunday is like every other Sunday.” To say that Easter Sunday is like every other Sunday is not to suggest an upgraded view of Easter Sunday but a downgraded view of every other one.”
Three years ago Reformed Baptist Fellowship featured this one:
Another unbiblical aspect of Lent is the very public manner in which it is practiced. Jesus condemned hypocrites for their outward displays of piety (Matt. 6:1-18), revealing the self-righteous nature of such gestures. Lent is very legalistic as well and Paul warns us against binding the conscience in areas which God has left free (Rom. 14:1-12). True sanctification involves the recognition that our consciences are liberated by Christ’s teachings (Mark 7:17-18) while also understanding that the corrupt, sinful heart is what separates us from God (vv. 20-23).
Jeremy Walker chimed in again last year:
So, here’s a thought: how about giving up semi-Roman Catholic dogma, humanly-mandated asceticism, and empty gestures? Rend your heart and not your garments, and do so not because it is a particular time of year, but because you have a particular kind of heart with its particular manifestations of rebellion. Self-control is never out of fashion. Repentance and confession may have their particular seasons in the life of the saints, but it is worth remembering that when our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent,” he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
Any we missed?