Happy Sunday! I can’t believe how fast the weekend goes! I also can’t believe how fast the year goes! It seems like it was just January 1. We are quickly approaching the Lenten season, and you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. I grew up in a Methodist church and do no really remember learning a great deal about the church year. Since switching over and being confirmed in the Episcopal denomination in my late 20s, I’ve learned a lot! Now, I think of it as time to prepare for Easter which is sort-of similar to Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas. Here’s the Episcopal Church’s definition…
Early Christians observed “a season of penitence and fasting” in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning “spring,” the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).
I have many a false start with Lent. There was the no-chocolate year that fell by the wayside with a Valentine’s Day gift extravaganza from my students. Then, there was the season of no-social media which I did last longer with. I have yet to make it to an Ash Wednesday service or even the “ashes-to-go” option. Well, no more! I’m making a commitment to Lent 2018. I really want to give Lent/Easter the same focus that I tend to easily give Advent/Christmas. Here’s my Lent plan!
- Give up dessert. – Now, this sounds like it might be too close to a New Year’s Resolution to be considered somehow connected to the observance of Lent. HOWEVER, I tend to use my time in the evenings to bake. I like desserts, and baking is something I do for fun and for stress-relief. BUT I feel like eliminating desserts would allow for more time (and less excuse-making) in the evenings to read my Bible or some other inspiring book or perhaps journal. Also, I would be turning to God and His word versus turning to a sack of flour. Probably a better choice, don’t you think??? With Lent, Sundays are not factored in, so I’ll plan to enjoy a dessert on Sundays only. I also counting cereal, toast with jelly, etc. as dessert. The only exception is fruit for Monday through Saturday. I am very hopeful that this will open up more time and opportunities for a strong friendship with Him. ***The teacher in me is going to make a sticker chart and give myself a fun sticker for each day completed. 🙂 ***
- Daily devotional time – I’m sometimes pretty good about this, but it is definitely not a daily habit. I want to spend some time each day reading the Bible and writing in my journal. When I write in my journal, I’m writing a letter to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. I like to be very open, no fancy language, and casual – like I’m having a discussion with Him sitting right there beside me. I check in with my other family members daily, so it only makes sense to check in with my Creator. Holden and I have also been doing a little devotional geared for boys (probably more mid-upper elementary), and I hope to continue that as well. I’m not making it part of my Lent plan since I’m trying to focus on myself for this. We also do Resurrection Eggs as it gets closer to Easter, and those are fantastic!
- Do Lent: Pray, Fast, Give with Holden and Helen – I printed this great idea out for Sunday school kids and also did one for my own kids. Basically, you pull a strip a day for Lent and follow the directions on the strip. Some of the “Pray” strips are specifically focused on prayers found in the Catholic Church. However, you could just make up a few of your own or make up your own prayers when pulling one of those out. Get the printable here!
- Ashes-To-Go – Unfortunately, my schedule is not going to allow an Ash Wednesday service. However, it looks like we are going to make it to the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Party! My son is WAY too excited about the list of possible toppings! I told Holden about the whole idea of ashes and what it symbolizes, and our plan is to go get our ashes-to-go after school. First-timers!
So that’s it! I am making a commitment to make this a priority this year. Prayers appreciated for strength and fortitude to see it through! I’m thinking it will be totally worth it.
Do you give up anything for Lent?
Did your family emphasize Lent when you were a kid?
Thanks for reading!