Yesterday at youth, we celebrated Fat Tuesday by eating a lot of pancakes and bacon. The history behind Fat Tuesday is that it’s the day before Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent), and people used up all their “rich and fatty” ingredients in their house so that they could start fasting for Lent.
I sometimes compare giving up something for Lent like an easy New Year’s Resolution – There aren’t really any consequences for breaking the resolution, and it’s only for 40 days (as opposed to an indefinite New Year’s Resolution).
But other times, I realize that Lent is actually a big deal.
“We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer; replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that does something about this situation. It calls us back to God, back to the basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord–the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life. That is what Ash Wednesday is all about–the fundamental change of life required of those who would die with Jesus and be raised to a new life in him.” – Robert Webber
Thinking about Ash Wednesday and Lent this way certainly makes it seem a bit more important than resolving to lose five pounds after the holidays.
Shane Claiborne puts it nicely:
“In a world filled with clutter, noise, and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to step back and rethink how we think and live. In a world of instant gratification, it’s a chance to practice delayed gratification – to fast – so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have. In a world where virtual friends are replacing real ones, it is an invitation to turn off TV and computer screens so we can spend time with real people again. It’s an opportunity to give up something that is sucking the life out of us so that we can be filled with God, with life, with love again.” – Shane Claiborne
What’s sucking the life out of you?
For myself, I am starting to notice that the two easiest things that come to mind are my irregular prayer patterns, and me wasting time on my *$#&#%*# phone. Not praying leaves me un-centred, more prone to being a jerk, quick to criticize and roll my eyes, and less likely to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. And my phone allows me to not be present to the people and the work around me.
(On a side note, these seem to be the same things that I give up and take on multiple times a year, year after year. I think I’m going to have to reflect on that for the next 40 days….)
So, it’s Au Revoir to social media on my phone, and it’s Adios to my phone being in my pocket while at home. (Try to be gracious to me, as sometimes I’ll need my phone and social media for work.)
And it’s Bonjour to waking up early for centering prayer, and it’s Hola to Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Racials. This year, I’ll even try throwing some evening prayers in there as well. (Try to be gracious to me, as I hate mornings, and I have small children).
And this Lent, may we all be filled with God, with love, and with life again.