Lent for most Christian churches means starting to prepare for the most important day in Christian’s lives, Easter Sunday. Most believers are always looking forward to the day Jesus is resurrected, as it marks a new beginning in their lives. However, before Easter Sunday, Christians usually observe the lent season, which is generally 40 days before Easter Sunday. However, do Lutherans celebrate lent?
Lutherans celebrate lent, but not entirely like some Christian churches. For instance, if you are a member of the Roman Catholic church, you will be required to abstain from eating meat during the lent season, fasting on some days, and making other personal sacrifices towards this holy season. For Lutherans, you are not required to do all this, as the bible did not command Christians to do so.
So, how do Lutherans view lent? Do Lutherans fast during lent? Do Lutherans observe Ash Wednesday? How do Lutherans commemorate lent? Read on to learn the answers to these questions.
How does Lutherans view lent?
Before we dive into how Lutherans view lent, it is essential to know this religious group, its founder, and how they are majorly linked with the Roman Catholic. Lutherans are a group of Christians belonging to the Lutheranism religion, founded in the 16th century by Martin Luther. Currently, Lutheranism is the second-largest protestant denomination. The Baptist church is presently leading at number one.
Lutherans’ view on lent is slightly different from what the roman catholic observes. In the 16th century, the Lutherans church detached itself from the Roman Catholic church, as it majorly based its preaching on what was written in the bible and the importance of salvation to its members. The Lutheran retained its lent season practices, as it ushered in a significant day, Easter Sunday.
Regarding the lent season, Lutherans acknowledge its importance and significance. Still, they do not see it as an obligation or a requirement to engage themselves in extraordinary activities such as fasting or abstaining from eating certain foods, especially meat.
In the Roman Catholic church, certain activities will be required to be observed by its members, including not eating meat and fasting. However, in Lutheranism, one has the power to choose how they want to observe the lent period, if they wish to fast or abstain from eating meat, especially on Fridays. The most important thing the Lutherans call its members to do is to observe the season faithfully as they look forward to the day their Christ rose from the dead.
Martin Luther, who was also a great theologian, retained lent as part of his church’s observations, as he wanted it to remind the Lutherans of Jesus Christ’s sufferings that he went through on the cross for their sins.
Do Lutherans fast during lent?
Unlike many churches that call upon their members to fast, Lutherans do not command or require all of their members to fast. However, their members are not entirely restricted from fasting, as they can do it of their free will.
Regarding optional fasting, Lutherans believe that it does not contribute to a person’s spirituality and therefore see no need to make it compulsory for their members. During the lent season, some churches call upon their members to spare certain fasting hours to concentrate more on their spiritual feeling.
However, Lutherans argue that temporarily suspending food intake for a certain period does not make one instantly grow spiritually, as spirituality is a journey that needs to be practiced every day instead of over a particular season.
Another argument that Lutherans usually raise on why they do not require obligatory fasting is because they believe that fasting will not lead to one’s sins being forgiven, as it takes more than that to be right before the Lord. Additionally, they suggest that one may decide to fast for show-off purposes or to look down on those who are not fasting, resulting in pride and ego for some members.
Therefore, Lutherans spent their lent season contemplating the goodness of Jesus and what they could do to better their faith and hope in him instead of preceding their regular eating schedules. Lastly, the famous Lutheranism’s Augsburg Confession states that fasting at a particular time or in a specific manner or way as commanded by a church will not make anyone righteous before the Lord, as the command does not come from the scripture; it goes ahead to state that it is therefore okay to omit such practices in the church.
Do Lutherans observe Ash Wednesday?
Lutherans actually observe Ash Wednesday, just like any other church. Ash Wednesday can be described as the first day of the holy season of Lent season, which is usually celebrated by a service or mass, and then the smearing of Ash on Christians’ faces follows afterward. Lutherans commemorate this special day for several reasons;
Ash Wednesday reminds the Lutherans of their sins.
The first reason Lutherans observe Ash Wednesday is that it reminds them of their sinful nature, and they would love to receive salvation by accepting the ash sign on their foreheads. In the bible, several people used to apply ashes on themselves whenever they felt not worthy before the Lord or were repenting for their sins. Daniel 9:3 says, “So, I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, fasting, and sackcloth and ashes.” From the above scripture, we see that before Daniel prayed, he dressed in sack clothes and ashes to show that he was admitting he was a sinner.
To acknowledge their mortality nature.
The Lutherans also observe Ash Wednesday as an acceptance of their mortality nature. Just like many protestant churches, Lutherans deeply believe in God. For this reason, they think that they will one day die, just like they were born, as Genesis 3:19 records, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust, you will return.” The ashes administered on Ash Wednesday remind them that the price of sin is death. Therefore, to fully acknowledge that, they must accept Jesus as their savior and appreciate his sacrifices on the cross to have eternal life.
Ash Wednesday reminds Lutherans that their sins have been forgiven and therefore are redeemed in Christ.
Ash Wednesday also plays a significant role in Lutheran Christians, as the smearing reminds them that God has forgiven their sins by Jesus dying on the cross and are new beings in the Lord. Ashes are usually smeared on the forehead of a person in s cross sign to signify the power of the cross in their lives, and these Lutherans can now go ahead and observe the lent season without engaging in other activities or practices as they wait for Easter Sunday when Jesus will resurrect in their hearts.
Lutherans observe the most critical activities leading to Easter Sunday because they believe in it. By choosing not to abstain from eating meat and fasting, Lutherans should not be seen as lesser religious, as they still observe and keep the critical reasons for this season.
How do Lutherans commemorate lent?
As mentioned above, the Lutherans do not engage in certain practices that most churches do. The Lutherans only observe the lent season like any other Christian denomination, as they strongly believe in Easter Sunday.
The main reason Lutherans believe in Easter Sunday and not entirely in other practices of the lent season is that there is no scripture in the bible that talks about the lent season and what should be done during it, making it an optional thing.
Lutherans usually commemorate the lent season by profoundly reflecting on what happened during this time and how Jesus was tortured and crucified on the cross for their sins. The Lutherans also spend this lent season appreciating what is coming on Easter Sunday, as that may usually play a significant role in every Christian’s life.
Although not all Lutherans members practice fasting and abstinence from meat, some Lutheran members usually use this lent season to fast and abstain from eating meat, pushing themselves closer towards Jesus Christ. One important thing to note is that those Lutherans members who choose to fast and abstain from consuming meat are encouraged not to consider themselves superior to the rest, as what matters is their heart and not their earthly practices.
Ashes to Ashes and dust to dust: Why Lutherans receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
What about fasting during Lent?
Lutheran Liturgical Practices During Lent
Differences in Lent Between Catholics and Lutherans
Do Lutherans get Ash on their foreheads?
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.