Going Silent for Lent

solitudeTomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which for Roman Catholic and Protestant churches marks the beginning of the season of Lent. (The Eastern Orthodox observance of Lent began on Sunday.) Lent is traditionally marked by fasting, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines of self denial for the purpose of drawing near to God. Many evangelicals who have not traditionally observed Lent have, in recent years, been rediscovering the ancient practices of this season and incorporating them into their lives.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Lent, and how and why it can be beneficial, take a look at this series of short articles by Mark Roberts.

As part of my observance of Lent this year, I have decided to go silent with respect to UBFriends. From tomorrow until Easter Sunday, I will refrain from reading or posting anything on this website.

This is going to be difficult for me because UBFriends is essentially my fifth child.  Since 2010, I have invested a great deal of time and energy to help create this website and keep it going. For better or worse, it has touched the lives of many. It has certainly changed me. UBFriends has been a source of fellowship, challenge, encouragement, rebuke and growth. Visiting this website each day has become part of my routine, something that would be difficult for me to live without.

Which is precisely why I am going to stay away. By going silent on UBFriends for the next 40 days, I hope to draw nearer to God so that he may work to clarify and sanctify my relationships.

The administrators of this website (Brian, Ben and I) have discussed the idea of shutting this website down during Lent, but we have not made any firm decision on that. It is possible that Brian might take the website down for a period of time to perform maintenance. If he decides to take UBFriends offline, it’s fine with me. On the other hand, I believe that how one chooses to observe Lent is a deeply personal matter, and I don’t want to forcibly impose my own decision of non-participation on anyone else.

Although I have decided to stop visiting UBFriends during Lent, others might want to make a Lenten practice of coming to UBFriends more often. Some people who find this website inconvenient, irritating, or infuriating. If anyone has anything negative to say about their organization, they would rather not hear about it. If so, then perhaps they might consider dropping their defenses, browsing through the articles and comments with an open mind and willingness to listen, as an act of loving their enemies as Jesus commanded.




  1. Yes Joe, I will be joining you in fasting from ubfriends for Lent, as we join with millions of people around the world celebrating Lent. I don’t feel alone at all.

    I really like your point though about not forcing our observance on others. For some, reading and commenting on ubfriends for 40 days might be a healthy way to observe Lent. So I’m not in favor of temporarily halting this website.

    I’ll actually want my password to be scrambled during the next 40 days, so that I can’t login here.

    Grace and peace.

  2. I love those articles you link to Joe, by Reverend Roberts.

    This is one quote that stands out to me:

    “In time, all Christians came to see Lent as a season to be reminded of their need for penitence and to prepare spiritually for the celebration of Easter.”

    I suggest that most Christians in America need to think far more deeply about the meanings of “penance”, “penitence” and “repentance”. The value of all three has been nearly lost due to not being able to tell the difference. I find that most American Christians I encounter use the word repentance when they are actually describing penance, and so they get bound up in what I call the hamster wheel gospel (which I don’t consider the gospel at all).

    I am considering re-reading The Scarlet Letter to ponder these meanings again.

    This quote from the book is worth considering more deeply:

    “No, Hester, no!” replied the clergyman. “There is no substance in it! It is cold and dead, and can do nothing for me! Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!”

  3. And for the next 40 days at least, I’ll be writing my book. I am really grateful that your article today Joe sparked the last piece of my outline for the book. I now have a complete outline for the first draft, and it’s rather timely that it happened on Paczki Day just before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

  4. Joe Schafer

    Sharon is making paczki right now. And she’s not even Polish.