Listening to: Gungor
Reading: A one page ‘explainer’ at our church’s Ash Wednesday service, posts about what people are giving up, fewer posts than usual (because people are giving things up)
Writing About: Lent, Repentance, Tradition(ish)
I work at a Church
My church is making a big deal of fasting during lent.
I love that, it makes me feel great about the community I work and worship with.
Because we are highlighting fasting and the Lent season,
I have gotten in a bunch of conversations
that can be summed up like this:
“Can I do ______, does that count?”
If you don’t want to read any more, I’ll skip to the end:
“Yes, yes you can do ____, and it does count”
or “who cares, just do it!”
Tradition and Protestants
I did not have a strong “Lent” tradition in my spiritual upbringing.
Probably because I am a protestant, and an evangelical one at that.
It’s also why my protestant mega-church Ash Wednesday service
elicits so much general confusion.
And that’s a great start.
It already feels like we are ‘mixing things up’
Who knows, maybe there will be incense in there!
(there won’t be any incense).
my people are all over the board in regards to Lent.
It feels kind of Catholic
(in the way that evangelicals sometimes use that term
to mean weird / bad / not Bible-y enough).
Sorry Catholic friends, I am sure you knew that was a thing.
All of that apprehensiveness is just fine…
It creates a pause – a little question.
It’s like going to camp:
Things happen differently
because we are in a different environment.
What are the rules
My church has been talking about fasting a lot.
We often use the qualifier:
“You can fast from a lot of things, but we mean food”
Nobody says it quite so obtusely, but that is what we are t trying to say.
And it’s that point that has generated the avalanche of questions:
Daniel ate Organic, whole, locally-sourced food, can I do that?
What about juice – is this a cleanse, it’s like a cleanse right?
John the Baptist ate locusts and honey only, does that count?
I am going to eat food, but what if I get off of social media?
-you may die, so that definitely counts-
What if I add something – Bible reading, extra giving?
-and the church says: “Yes, extra giving does count. It definitely counts”-
I plan on doing the “buy nothing new during Lent” challenge some day, I love that idea.
Getting rid of junk around the house is popular this year as well.
Does that count?
Again, yes! Sure. Who cares?
Is it good?
Will it push you towards love and holiness?
Then do it!
Then, sometimes that becomes:
What if it makes may life better, and I am happier – does it still count?
If I exercise, and lose weight, is that Lent?
That doesn’t sound dark enough,
though I am sure it involves plenty of suffering.
(For all of our stand-offishness about ideas that feel ‘Catholic’,
we evangelicals are just as prone to wallowing in guilt as anyone!)
Does it Count? Well, maybe.
It doesn’t sound like reflection and repentance.
But it sure might be – gluttony is sin, right? and sloth?
Once more, a resounding:
“Sure, or who cares.”
Just do something!
What are the rules II
Lent is 40 days, but there are 46 calendar days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
That’s because Sundays are not ‘Lent’.
They are little Easters.
So get rid of junk Mon-Sat, then binge shop on Sunday, because Christ is Risen!
Lent is about self-reflection, repentance, self-denial..
Important, difficult things.
If a social media fast causes you to look inward and breaks an addiction, carry on!
If focusing on simplicity gives you a sense of your unhealthy reliance on things or shopping – that is a huge lent win!
If not eating food forces your mind to bend towards prayer and reliance on God. Good. It’s working.
Even if you are eating locusts and honey instead of nothing at all.