calendar: preparing for LENT
we have just a week until the lenten season is upon us! for those who follow the christian calendar, the two big seasons of the year are lent & advent.
i never grew up celebrating either of them, & i didn't even know the words "lent" & "advent" until i was in high school or college. when i learned about lent, it was reduced to being defined as giving up something for a few weeks before easter. ok, fasting's good, so that's neat. but that's all i ever thought of it.
i've given up things a couple times in the past for lent, but i don't feel like i've ever fully participated in it. as i observe the religious calendar this year, i want to get to the heart of each holy day & season. i want to understand how they draw us closer to God, enrich our faith, & keep us more mindful of the kingdom at all times. in recent years, i've learned more about the spirit behind the lenten fast & the season as a whole.
it's somewhat ironic to talk about preparing for lent because lent is itself a season of preparation. starting on ash wednesday, many christians spend 40 days, not including sundays, preparing for easter. [easter is another holiday i never really celebrated growing up, except easter egg hunts & ham for lunch.] while i believe that in partaking of the Lord's supper, christians remember the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday [at least in many traditions, including mine], i also understand the benefit of setting aside one day a year to particularly celebrate this most important event of all time. and the lenten season is a time for moderation, fasting, confession, & other spiritual disciplines, all to help us focus acutely on the life & death of Jesus in which He suffered & sacrificed for us & taught us a better way of life. then it culminates into a glorious celebration of Christ's resurrection on easter sunday! [it is important to note that lent is never mentioned in the bible, but it is a long-standing tradition in the history of the church, & it is based on many practices like repentance, mourning in ashes, fasting, & prayer told of repeatedly in scripture.]
i don't want to just "do lent" come next wednesday. i want to prepare for it these next few days. and i invite you to prepare with me. as a guide, i've chosen to ruminate on the 40 ideas for lent compiled by rachel held evans. she has done this for the past few years, so you can find several lists on her blog. i imagine she'll put together another for this year, but i'm going to work off of 2012's list. i like how she has broken up her suggestions into four categories: questions to ask yourself, book recommendations, disciplines/fasts/rituals, & meditations. i believe partnering this with prayers for guidance will help me be intentional about lent & benefit from it to the fullest extent.
i'll post again wednesday about where God has led me in my preparation & how i'll be participating in this important spiritual season. i'd love to hear your suggestions & if/how you plan to practice lent!