Today marks Ash Wednesday in the church calendar, which means it's the first day of the season of Lent. I don't talk about faith a whole lot on this little blog, but it's an integral part of who I am and this blog, after all, is named for a line of one of my favorite hymns, so I figured I'd throw out a couple of thoughts on Lent and why it's important to me. If this isn't your thing, feel free to skip this post. I'll be back with more of the usual tomorrow!
In case you're unfamiliar with Lent, it's the 40 day period (excluding Sundays) when Christians spend time preparing for the celebration of Easter. To use the words of one of my former pastors, Erik, "The basic idea is that our appreciation of the wonder of Easter is heightened by first sitting in our longing. To feast, we must first fast."
This "fast" is often misunderstood as a challenge to give something up for 40 days (i.e. chocolate, sodas, TV, Facebook, etc.) just to see if you can do it, but really, the point is to remove something that you really love to heighten your awareness for your need for Jesus and to recognize that you can't live this life on your own. When you find yourself longing for that particular thing that you've given up (which you will), you are reminded of your need for a Savior.
Lent is also a time for self-examination and "taking inventory" on what's going on in your life spiritually. It's a time to ask things like what's your relationship with God like these days? If that question is daunting, or scary(!) to you, remember that this question isn't meant to send you into a tailspin of guilt or anything like that - instead, it's to remind us that even though we're more sinful and helpless than we would’ve ever dared admit, in Christ we are more accepted and forgiven than we would’ve ever dared hope (to paraphrase Tim Keller, one of my favorite authors).
I'll keep this post short and sweet today, but if you want to join me in observing Lent for the next 40+ days, one thing you can do is spend some time each day with God. I'm using a set of online readings that I've read for the past couple of years to help keep me on track. You can find it here. You can even have it delivered to your inbox every day!
There are lots of resources out there though, and I'd encourage you to take a look at a couple if you're curious! There are also a lot of people who write more eloquently about Lent than I do, and if you want more information, try this and this.
I'm always available to talk about Lent (or faith, generally) more if you're interested! Shoot me an email. Let's be in touch!