For those of us coming out of the conservative Evangelical background, the rediscovery of the Christian calendar has inspired many of us to participate in the sacred rhythm that the calendar affords. Two seasons in particular seem to show a resurgence: one being Advent, the other being Lent.
As a kid growing up I had no idea what Mardi Gras (or Carnival) was all about. I would see the pictures on TV and wonder what would inspire such revelry? It seemed to always have an intensity that celebrated being naughty. I must admit I was intrigued.
With the seeming re-emergence of Lent (I use the word “re-emergence” because there have been millions and millions of people following Lent for thousands of years) as it has come into my tradition again, there is a tremendous excitement around everything to do with Lent; discovering the beauty of a participatory Ash Wednesday service, the pancake breakfast of Shrove Tuesday, Lenten meals and the decision to walk out the Lenten season by removing something from our lives as an act of solidarity with Christ’s journey to the cross. These are all beautiful things.
This year for Lent I have decided to give up nothing. And, I’ve also decided for the first time in a number of years not to follow a Lenten devotional or Scriptural reading. For me, the reason is pretty simple. If I am really honest about why I have been following these practices for the last couple of years, I think there is an element in me that goes, “Well, it is the thing to do, I’m supposed to do it! All my contemporaries are writing about. Maybe I should be writing about it?” So this year, I’m taking a break. For me, Lent just got too “cool”, and I don’t think Lent should be “cool”. If it’s not cool for you – that’s cool.
Please don’t let my issues be your issues. For those of you who love the experience of Lent – ignore everything I have just said. Though I have to be honest.
I am very thankful for the rediscovery of the Christian calendar in my life, but I am thankful because it invites me into a beautiful rhythm, and that’s the rhythm of GRACE.
I think this Lent I am just going to be listening for that rhythm in my own life, my own story, the people I love – and see how the rhythms of grace invite me into the mystery of the Cross and the journey into the darkness before there is light.