Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As an evangelical Protestant, I don't belong to a church that "officially" practices Lent. But I grew up Episcopalian, in New England, which meant I grew up thinking of myself not as a Protestant but as an English Catholic. Lent was a big part my life. As a family we practiced the revised dietary rules, and each of us always gave up something for Lent. I typically gave up my favorite Saturday morning cartoon. Later, in the teen years, it seems we must not have followed it as rigorously, for I don't have clear memories of Lenten practices from those years.

A few years ago I decided to re-introduce Lenten observance in my life, spurred on by my son-in-law who, although an evangelical pastor, had made Lent a practice of his. The first year I gave up computer games, which had begun to consume way too much of my time. That year I stuck to it quite well. I did this each of the next couple of years (two or three, can't remember), although never really got through the forty days without playing some games.

This year, for some reason, it seems more important to me to prepare for the celebration of Jesus' resurrection by in a small way experiencing his passion. So I've decided to expand a little. I will give up computer games again, and to it add soda pop and chips. Both of these are enjoyable to me, and will be a sacrifice to do without. On the chips, I'm going to except tortilla chips in taco salad, which is a staple of ours. Kind of hard to have taco salad without chips.

In addition to this, our denomination is doing a common study beginning today, called Ashes to Fire. It will cover the Lenten and Easter seasons, concluding at Pentecost. Our congregation is having all life groups at all age levels study this material. The pastor's sermons will reinforce the life group lessons, and a devotional book will have a week worth of readings on it. Tonight we will have an Ash Wednesday service. I'm looking forward to it.

And I'm looking forward to Lent. I want to have something to give up, not because I have to, but because I want to experience Christ, his suffering, and his resuurection as I never have before. I begin the liturgical season with optimism and determination. How this plays out I will find out, but I feel that I will be able to carry through with my decision. I'm not seeing this as a burden, but as a joy to partake in.

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