Growing up in a non-denominational, hodge-podge of faith traditions, I never really celebrated Lent. I had friends who were Methodist in Middle and High School who would participate each year. From what I could gather, they were all trying to clear their face of acne by not eating so much candy, lose a little weight by cutting out deserts or some just participated because everyone else was. I thought my friends were crazy! Why in the world would you do this? Why for 40 days? Why did you show up to school one day with ashes on your head? What in the world is Lent, I thought that was what came out of the dryer?!
As I began embracing the Methodist tradition in college, I began to see that my outsider perspective of what Lent was matched up pretty well to the people who sat next to me on Sunday mornings. My first year participating, I can’t remember exactly but I think I gave up sweets. I imagine I would have said I did it to get closer to God, to live more simply, blah blah blah… Really, I think I was just trying to impress the cute Methodist girl I had been going to church with (we ended up getting married by the way).
So many people, myself included, do not slow down during the season of Lent to remember why we celebrate and experience how powerful this season can be. The 40 day season (Sunday’s are not included) that starts on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18) and culminates on Easter (April 5) is a time that we choose to live simply, pray and fast in order to grow closer to God. For a great, short overview of what/why/how about Lent, I encourage you to visit http://alivenow.upperroom.org/?s=lent+101.
This year, I approach Lent with great reverence, expectation and joy for what I know the season is sure to bring. What might you think of doing this year for Lent? Whether you choose to give up something, take on something or dedicate yourself to growing closer to God during this season, my prayer is that you will experience God in a powerful way.