Brady Braatz, Dr. Kelvin St. John, and Quinn North decided to challenge the status quo of Lent by doing something different this year.

Brady Braatz, MNU’s interim chaplain, said that Lent is a tactile way that Christians can participate in the Christian faith while taking time to slow down and appreciate all that surrounds them.

“Lent is an emergency brake as you’re barreling down the mountain and you’re not realizing what you’re passing or who you’re about to run over,” Braatz said. “We frequently get in the mode of allowing life to happen to us and doing the next thing that is in front of us. Lent is an opportunity to say intentionally, ‘I want to participate in the rhythm of life that is in reflection of who God is.’”

Braatz said that it is beneficial to have these different seasons of life to help focus on different portions of the Christian story.

“Lent is this startling reminder that we are just as responsible for hanging Jesus on the cross as anyone of those people,” Braatz said. “It is this reminder that I am a person who is in need of a Savior and I have been the very person who has rejected that Savior and yet in humility and kindness and gracious love God comes to us, even then.”

St. John, professor of practical theology, is observing Lent by putting on a wooden cross daily. It serves as a reminder that Easter and Good Friday are approaching.

“We’re supposed to take up our cross and follow,” St. John said. “It physically reminds me that I need to follow Christ spiritually in my life.”

lentimageBrady Braatz (left) and Dr. Kelvin St. John (right) stand together in MNU’s Weatherby Chapel. Braatz said Lent is an opportunity for Christians to be reminded of where they belong in the story of God. Photo by Briana Hindle

For St. John, participating in Lent also means that he is joining in the worldwide church in remembering that he is a Christian. He said that Lent not only helps Christians to focus on their faith, but it is also a way to tithe their time since the 40 days of Lent are just a little more than a tenth of the year.

“We as humans tend to get forgetful over time and we tend to pull away from God a bit,” St. John said. “We tend to cycle a little bit where sometimes we are closer to God and other times far away. Each year Lent is a nice season to remember that we need to get closer to God.”

Quinn North, a sophomore speech and theater education major, also said that Lent is a time where Christians should draw closer to God. He said that it is about laying aside personal interests and giving that energy to God instead.

“In a culture where denying self-gratification is a foreign concept, we have room to give up a few things to help us refocus,” North said. “Especially for something as short as 40 days out of a year.”

North decided to add a practice to his life for the duration of the Lent season by taking the Nazarite vow, a Biblical practice most famously associated with Samson and John the Baptist.

“This year I decided to do something a little different," North said. "I decided to take a Nazarite vow. It centers around some of the same themes that Lent does. It centers around giving up your own desires for the purposes of coming closer to God. Dedicating yourself to the Lord.”

The Nazarite vow means that North will not be able to cut his hair, consume anything with grapes, eat pork or go near dead bodies. Abstaining from these things traditionally set a person aside as holy for God’s use for the duration of the vow.

North also said that Lent is something done with God’s help, not something done out of one’s own self-control.

“It’s not about you. I think a lot of times what we do or don’t do for Lent becomes about us and what we have to give up,” North said. “Lent is a time of remembrance and preparation. For a lot of it, we are looking to the cross. It is about what he gave up rather than what we’re giving up.”