Lent Event informs students on church traditions

The Student Ministry Leadership Team hosted the ‘Lent Event’ this Monday to better inform students on the spiritual importance of the liturgical year.

The event featured Robbie Castleman, professor of biblical studies, as the keynote speaker. Castleman explained not only the importance of Lent, but of the entire liturgical year.

“There’s a lot of students who come from homes and congregations that don’t follow the liturgical year. It’s just not part of what they do,” Castleman said.

In fact, 85 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of Catholics said they have not fasted for Lent in the past three years, according to a 2014 study by Barna Group.

The liturgical year is a traditional calendar of events that has been used since the early church to better walk in the traditions that Christianity is rooted in. The year starts with Advent and concludes with Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost.

“The liturgical year is a very old idea to help congregations and Christians walk through year after year, with keeping in mind the life of Christ,” Castleman said.

The event focused primarily on information regarding the liturgical year, but was held with Lent around the bend. Lent is the forty days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, which begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter.

“The idea of Lent is as old as Judaism. It is the idea that you prepare yourself for the act of salvation,” Castleman said.

Cade Blush, senior biblical and theological studies major, spoke about the importance of holding the Lent Event.

“I think it helps show students that the history of practicing Lent goes back a very, very long way, and that it’s not something we made as an American tradition, and it’s not something that’s made up by the modern church, but it’s something that’s gone back thousands and thousands of years,” Blush said.

Castleman’s main point was how the liturgical year in general, and Lent in particular, are a tool for better knowing and understanding Christ’s words in the New Testament.

“Bonhoeffer put it this way: ‘When Jesus bids you come, He bids you come and die.’ What does it mean to die to yourself? That is the question of Lent. When you walk through that and think through that for forty days, you’re going to find out things about yourself because you looked, and because you asked the Spirit to help expose things in your life,” Castleman said. “We all need to be ready for the Lord to put His finger on something in our lives, or maybe many things in our lives, saying, ‘It’s time to let go, say goodbye to that, there’s no looking back.’ To follow Jesus means you die to yourself. That’s the deal.”

Andrew Heldenbrand, who grew up in Spain, attended the event.

“Growing up in a Catholic country, I sort of saw all those things as outside of Christianity, but one of the unexpected things about a lot of professors at JBU have shown me is the idea that there’s more to Christianity than just the Protestant side of it. There’s a lot to tradition, and too often the church throws out a lot of really good stuff in an effort to distance itself from other kinds of belief,” Heldenbrand said.