The Rev. Thomas Bowen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs, said he approaches Lent as time of reflection. (Courtesy photo)
The Rev. Thomas Bowen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs, said he approaches Lent as time of reflection. (Courtesy photo)

Many Christian denominations observe 40 days of fasting and prayer, a time called Lent, in preparation for the spring celebration of Easter — a religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

“Lent is a season with requirements and demands,” said Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington. “WHEN you give alms, WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast – the Gospel doesn’t offer the possibility to opt NOT to do these things. These things belong to the very nature and season of Lent.”

“Today, I join Christians worldwide in observing Ash Wednesday,” President Biden wrote on Twitter. “The Lenten season is a time for reflection and discernment and an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to God and one another.”

The Rev. Thomas Bowen said he approaches Lent as a time of reflection.

“In recent years, I think about taking something on in addition to dietary restriction,” said Bowen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs.

“What can I do on behalf of others,” Bowen said he considers, hoping that these practices last beyond the Lenten season.

Heath Carelock, 42, director of the Financial Empowerment Center at Prince George’s Community and member of the Cornerstone Assembly of God, said during Lent he spends more time with his wife and children.

“What I did was to give up late nights and to be more available to my friends, family, and fatherhood and to be more intentional about scripture reading, prayer, and sharing about the growth experience.”

Carelock said after all the deaths and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are “seeking answers to fundamental questions with a sense of loss.”

Byron Scott, a reporter and an anchor for Prince Georges’s CTV, said he is also spending more time with his family.

“My youngest son was here recently, and it was nice,” Scott said. “As we get older, visits with our children are more special. He is 27.”

Scott also said that he and his wife are being more intentional about dating. “COVID brought everything to a halt, so, for example, we went to the Smithsonian the other day to hang out.”

The word “Lent” has Germanic origins and refers to the “lengthening” of days in spring, and the Rev. Jerome Bell is taking a note from the definition. A local pastor, gospel singer and radio personality, Bell said after years of running from event to event, he is slowing down and thinking harder about his faith.

“It is really not just about what one gives up for Lent, but what are we doing collectively as the people of God,” said Bell, who on Sunday preached at Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Maryland. “I’m only eating fish during lent to connect with my body, and denying myself to grow closer to Christ.”

Bell, who managed the late gospel artist Tremaine Hawkins, said that for him Lent is a “pivotal season.”

“Some people chase titles, but I’m just trying to follow the Lord,” said Hawkins, whose latest musical project, “Bridging the Gap,” aims to connect generations of gospel artists. “The word of the Lord says in righteousness shalt thou be established Isaiah 24:14.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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