Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone! Ahem . . well, actually . . I guess it isn't supposed to be a happy thing . .
Having grown up Southern Baptist, I never celebrated Lent. In fact, I don't remember it even being mentioned at my church. I heard about friends at school giving up things for Lent, so occasionally I did so, too, just to be fashionable. Not until we joined the Methodist church in NJ did I ever give much thought, really, to the season (or even refer to it as a "season").
I have, a few times over the years, given up something for Lent, just kind of for the sake of having the genuine "Lenten experience". It has often been a meaningful exercise. I can see the value of it. But I can also see how it can become a dry ritual, done merely for the sake of being religious . . . or fashionable.
I just read on my friend Sherrill's blog that she decided this year, instead of giving up something for Lent, she's going to add something for Lent. She's going to make a point of blogging every day, to sort of record her "journey" preparing to celebrate Easter. I thought that was an interesting take on it all.
Part of me feels about Lent (and Advent, another one we never did in my church) the way Jehovah's Witnesses feel about all holidays (at least, the way my Jehovah's Witness students I used to teach described it to me). I should always be in a mindset of remembering the sacrifice of Christ. Setting aside a certain time that I'm supposed to do it kind of minimalizes its importance for every day. But then Christ said at the Last Supper, "Do this in remembrance of me." God knows us better than we do. I guess he feels we need some rituals in our lives to keep us focused.
I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to mark the Lenten season in any particular way this year. (Yes, I know -- it's a little late to be thinking about this . . . ) I'd be curious to hear what the rest of you are doing. Actually, I kind of think that before I set about marking the season, I need to have a better idea of its purpose.
So, fill me in, friends! Why do you "do" Lent?