What the Black Church Can Teach Us About Lent

What the Black Church Can Teach Us About Lent


Majority white churches can learn from the spiritual practices Black believers have cultivated for centuries.

Lent is a season of darkness just before the light that comes with the celebration of Eastertide—a time where we are reminded of our mortality. It is a period of reflection, repentance, and preparation when we seek the Lord in prayer and commit more deeply to Scripture, in addition to practicing almsgiving or engaging in self-control through fasting.

Each year the season of Lent briefly overlaps with Black History Month—and yet I’ve noticed there are very few resources on the potential ways in which these two traditions might engage.

As a biracial child, I was baptized in the Catholic church with my mom’s white side of the family, but I also spent time with my dad’s side of the family, who worshiped in a variety of Black churches. This created a unique experience for me, where I had some understanding of the liturgical calendar as well as an exposure to the Black church and its traditions.

I loved the liturgy in the Catholic church—the smell of the incense, the reading of Scripture each week—but I also loved the Spirit-filled worship of my Black family on my dad’s side.

Many of the more liturgical spaces I’d worshiped in lacked the celebratory and charismatic aspects of my experience in Black churches, which felt like a significant deficit. So, I tried to find a tradition that made space for both things, which has ultimately led me into vocational ministry within the Anglican church.

The churches my dad’s family attended did not observe Lent, but they faithfully engaged in the spiritual practices associated with it, such as prayer, reading of Scripture, service, repentance.

Their congregations did, however, have jubilant Black History Month celebrations—lamenting …

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February 24, 2023 at 06:19PM