Ashes to Ashes…

ash.jpgI grew up in a decidedly non-liturgical home.  We were evangelicals, and my father was ordained in the Methodist church, which is why I’m a bit confused as to why we were so far removed from liturgies…but, such is the case for me.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for most Western Christian churches who observe liturgical calendars.

I have never observed Lent in my whole life.  I honestly didn’t even know for sure what it was until a few years ago.  Lent, in case YOU don’t know either, is a period of forty days prior to Easter, where the Christian, in imitation of Christ’s forty day wilderness temptation, observes a time of penitence, fasting, charity and prayer.

People practice the denial of self in a great variety of ways during lent.  Some abstain from certain types of food…I have one friend who gave up deserts for forty days (and consequently lost a lot of weight).  It was very meaningful for him.  I had another friend who quit watching TV for forty days.

Having grown up completely outside the reaches of liturgical observances, recently I’ve become quite fascinated with them.  A year ago, I began the practice of praying the “daily office”, from the Celtic Daily Prayers book.  It has had a profound effect on me.

Today, I’m confronted with Ash Wednesday…and I’m wondering about Lent.  Maybe I’ll take a foray into this liturgy as well.  Maybe God has something hiding in there for me…something I hadn’t noticed or known of during my upbringing and early Christian years.  If I don’t observe this year…I’m very inclined to plan for next year.  I think the joy of liturgies is that since they have no historical influence on me, I can see them as tools rather than standards, and can observe them without fear of messing up.

What would I abstain from for forty days?  Are YOU observing Lent?  What would you, or are you, abstaining from?

4 comments

  1. Lent…..hmmmmm……if this is done to have a closer relationship with Jesus and to understand Him & His suffering more….why wait until Lent? If we love Him, we want to make “everything” about Him– all the time. Rob, thanks for the reminder!

  2. Blogging…my wife says it’s a total waste of time. She’s probably right! If I could choose something to abstain from for the sake of abstaining, I would say…Cell Phones. Yeah…I’m totally tired of them. But seriously, if I was going to abstain from something for the sake of penitence, fasting, charity and prayer, I’d probably say my computer.

  3. My preference would be to give up stupidity and selfishness. At least this lent season I can pledge to give it a real try. Forty days is a really long time. That would mean forty days of being aware and unattached to worldly things. At least my inspiration is this and perhaps I can also pledge to give up chocolate for forty days as a symbol of my feable efforts to the greater goal. I am thankful to God for every minute to work towards my aspirations and pray that they are in harmony with His will.

    Thank you Rob for your insights into the real purpose behind this tradition that started so long ago. How trivial our modern problems must be in comparison to the harsh world of the early Christians. Their many demonstrations of faith in the early years of civilization is an inspiration to me.

  4. I, like Rob, took no observance of Lent. I saw it as something the Catholics and other such denominations did (I was raised Southern Baptist). Prior to Eastgate, I was attending a local Methodist Church where Lent was observed. I took interest and pondered much before committing myself to the willing sacrifice. Admittedly, I did so only once. However, I did not want to see it as a means of losing something I disliked, didn’t need or should otherwise not be doing anyway. I wanted my focus to be a reflection and a point of gratitude for that which God had been so gracious to give me – that which I did not deserve. Granted, that which I gave up in observance of Lent was no loss to my well-being or health; it was no bitter herb eaten for 40 days, but it caused me, each of those 40 days, to remember. In your face – all the day remember. Something I wish I would be guilty of 365 days a year.

    I believe if God has put it on your heart to ponder, and you listen, His purpose will be accomplished – any and all standards aside.

    Rob, I love that you don’t deny the Lord the freedom to work in unexpected ways in your life!!!!

    Peace bro!!

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