I 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?