Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pardon My Lenten Smile


So why am I starting my Ash Wednesday Post with a picture from Christmas?  Well, I think I am trying to remind myself that we don't have one without the other.  Tonight this church will begin to fill with people again, but they will not have the same spirit of rejoicing that we have for Christmas.  However, I think we need to remember that we don't have Lent if Jesus isn't born of a virgin.  That sweet little baby in the precious manger scene shown here is the same Son of God who came to be man and to die a miserable death to wipe away our guilt.  We need to know and appreciate the entire story, not just the fun parts.

We don't have Easter if Jesus doesn't first teach us who he is and who we are through him.  We don't get to Easter without learning the suffering that led to it.  And for me, it is all about Easter.  I can't wait for Easter!  But for now, I need to settle down and focus on Lent.

At our church this year we have a theme, "Christ in the Strangest Places".  We join with two other congregations for our Lent Services.  I can't wait to hear what they do with that theme!  I'll update you when I know more!

I grew up in the church, but not in one that observed Lent.  Lent isn't something mandated Biblically, but rather a tradition incorporated as a way to help us focus on Jesus' life and teaching, including his pain and suffering.  It is considered a "season" of the church calendar year.

Mostly what I knew about Lent as a child was that a lot of people did not eat chocolate.  I also noted that some of the fast food chains offered fish sandwiches on Fridays as some follow the custom of no meat but fish on Fridays.  I've learned that the whole idea beyond giving up something, anything, for Lent is to remind us that Jesus gave up everything for us.  Lent is not considered a happy time, but rather a thoughtful time.  I once had a button, though, that said, "Pardon my Lenten Smile".  I liked that.  I can't go around with a long face for 6 weeks!  Maybe that is because I know how the story ends.  As Cordelia said to me during that scary Strawberry Shortcake Movie,  "Don't worry Grandma.  Everything will be ok in the end."

One year Mike talked about adding something for Lent, instead of focusing on deprivation.  I liked that!  I like the idea of adding prayer time or adding more time for devotions or adding a good deed or something like that.  What do you think of that idea?  Do you have any good ideas for adding something to your life for Lent?