A popular notion of the season of Lent is that we must “give up something.” We are often asked, “what are you giving up for Lent?” Various responses are expected: red meat, sweets, or perhaps excess television or Internet browsing. Perhaps we need to “give up” that simplistic notion of Lent. (Jeffrey Tribble)
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On Ash Wednesday (February 13), we begin the annual journey of the Lenten season. This is one of the two times in the Christian year (the other is Advent) that we – as Christians – are asked to make intentional preparations. The celebration of Easter is forty days (not counting Sundays) away, and we are given this season of time to get ready.We are all aware of the common (if not always popular) tradition that asks us to “give up something” for Lent. Fat Tuesday originated from the idea that the decadent and sweet foods – if they were to be “given up” for Lent – needed to be all used up and out of the house before Ash Wednesday.
But if, as Tribble suggests, this tradition is overly simplistic, then what is Lent for; what else can we do instead of just choosing what “to give up?”
One, he suggests is intentionality: taking on one of the many practices that Christians have traditionally added during the season of Lent: prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, acts of justice or piety, initiating fellowship or extending hospitality. Intentionality means to act with a purpose, a plan, maybe even a schedule. If you would like to follow the daily lectionary scripture readings for Lent, you can use this link: http://www.pcusa.org/media/uploads/worship/pdfs/daily_readings_for_lent_2013.pdf
The other thing to do, Tribble says, is receptivity to God’s grace. The crucial assumption here, of course, is that God’s grace is available for us to receive. Instead of turning away from dark chocolate or your computer screen, how about turning toward God? When you are feeling sad or angry or confused, turn toward God for comfort. When you face trials or temptations, turn toward God for strength.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are human. Easter will announce that Christ is risen. In the meantime, in the season of Lent, we can learn (or re-learn) that God loves us and is always with us even though we are human, and because Christ is risen.