Happy Ash Wednesday 2018!

The season of religious reflection and self-preservation is upon us: Lent begins today! Today marks the 40 days before Easter. Lent will begin this year on February 14, 2018 and will end on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

It seems that there is a lot happening today, as February 14th is also Valentine’s Day. However, Lent is just as special for a number of reasons. Lent, for many around the area, is the season of fasting and giving up worldly pleasures in the name of following in the footsteps of Christ and remembering his sacrifices.

This is obviously a personal decision for those who celebrate the holiday, but sacrifices could include something substantial like fasting, or maybe something quiet and personal, like a habit. The important part is that whatever is given up is something that has an impact and that allows for reflection in its absence.

In case you were wondering, Lent itself represents the 40 days Jesus wandered in the desert praying and fasting after he was baptized in the River Jordan. Lent technically will last 46 days, ending on Holy Thursday and leading up to Good Friday, which is when Jesus was crucified on the cross before to his resurrection on Easter. Easter falls on April 1st this year!

If you have never celebrated Lent or want to try something new with your personal celebrations this year, here are a couple of ideas to make the holiday more meaningful. To help celebrate new life and new beginnings that Easter brings, try planting a garden and watching new life grow before your very eyes. You will be reminded of the humbleness and preciousness of life and how each day is a gift.

Another option might be to spend more time pouring over the Bible by yourself, with your family, or with a friend group. There are several apps or videos online that can get a conversation started and get you really connecting and reflecting on scripture and on the season of Lent and Easter.

Lastly, this season is about thinking and being reminded of the ultimate gift we have received in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Follow the example and give your time within the community by volunteering and helping those in need. It doesn’t always have to be during Christmas! Take charge this season and give back to others.

However you choose to celebrate the season, make it meaningful to you. Remember all that has been given to us and the blessings that each day holds. Happy Lent from all of us at the Gatlinburg Daily Post!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Gatlinburg Daily Post Staff Writer