Lent, a period of forty days, not counting Sundays, holds a place of great importance in the liturgical calendar of the United Methodist Church. This time, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Week, is one of deep spiritual reflection, penance, and preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. In the United Methodist tradition, Lent becomes a spiritual discipline journey aimed at drawing believers closer to God and reflecting on the sacrifice of Christ for humanity’s salvation.
Lent stands on dual themes of repentance and renewal. This time challenges believers to scrutinize their lives, confess their sins, and bring themselves anew to God’s will. It is a time for United Methodists to practice self-denial, fasting, prayer, and acts of service, akin to Jesus’ time of temptation and fasting in the wilderness. These are not aims in themselves but rather means to spiritual growth, increased fidelity to God’s commands, and preparation for the joy of Easter.
The text in 1 Peter 3:18-22 relates specifically with the themes of suffering, sacrifice, and salvation that lie at the core of the Lenten observance. This scripture describes Christ’s suffering as “once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God”—a plea to reverence the sacrificial love and ultimate victory over sin and death that Lent prepares believers to celebrate. Here, the language of baptism resonates with the idea of the believer identifying with Christ’s death and resurrection, a fundamental element of Lenten reflection. Thus, Lent takes on a character in which believers can meditate on the depth of Christ’s sacrifice, the power of his resurrection, and the meaning of our baptismal vows.
In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:18-22, the Lenten practices often involve fasting, prayer, and acts of charity to embody Christ’s sacrificial spirit. Fasting is a tangible reminder of Christ’s own suffering and is a discipline of self-control, and prayer deepens the believer’s communion with God. Acts of charity and service mirror Christ’s command to love and serve one another, echoing his own ministry to the people. Through these practices, we are invited to experience a profound journey from ashes to resurrection, deeply rooted in the Gospel, embracing the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice and the hope of salvation.