This wednesday is Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar. It marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent, which end with Easter. I didn’t grow up in a denomination that celebrated or honored Lent. We just by-passed all of that and focused on Easter. We bought new, fancy, spring dresses and white shoes (or sandals) to wear on Easter Sunday when people came out of the woodwork to join us at church. During college I became aware of Lent and the season of anticipation of the days leading up to Christ’s trial, death, burial and then resurrection! After college I began attending a church that had a Good Friday service. This was insightful, in that it was a somber (uncomfortably so) service where we pondered – through song and word– the weight of the death of Jesus.
Easter had never felt so anticipated, relieving, and celebratory.
Some of the past few years, I have felt like my life has been one big LENTEN FAST– with young children and an intense job, and a household to keep. I feel that my every day life is a sacrifice!
Therefore, it’s hard to feel inspired to fast from yet another comfort.
Then I begin to ponder what the point of Lent really is. In my “researching” I have found that the answer to that can really vary. Some people seek, through observing Lent, to align with Christ, who sacrificed his very life. Some people use it as a time to cleanse their lives physically, mentally and spiritually. Some people use it as a time to LEAN on God in a greater way by making sacrifices personally and meditating on Christ’s life. Some people use it as a time to meditate and reflect on their own life in relation to Jesus and the gift of His death.
In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.
If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you most deplore?
If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?
Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?
If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.
This is an especially vulnerable feeling when done with guests at the table. (We warned them that we would be sharing and invited them to participate in whatever way they felt most comfortable…we didn’t want to impose this radical ritual on our guests)!
Last year when we did this we found that as the days progressed, we became increasingly more aware of our sin throughout the day and even began to see patterns of our repeated sins.
|Lucy was so excited she stuck the wreath on her head as a crown!
At first I told her to take it off, and then I realized that she was
embracing the joy of this beautiful redemption.
Another beautiful gift last Easter was that my friend Blair, introduced these lovely sweet potato biscuits to us, at our Easter feast! We host an Easter dinner/lunch each year for people who are in town and need a place to go. It’s a fun and unpredictable event. I will go into the details more in the coming weeks, and share some of our favorite food traditions of Easter! But as I was reflecting on last year’s Easter Season, the wreath of toothpick thorns and the sweet potato biscuits are the two new traditions that were introduced, that we are excited to repeat this year.
In case you came here today looking for a recipe, rather than a spiritual guide, here is a winner of a recipe! The recipe is from Blair, via her mom, via Southern Living Magazine (always a good sign).
Combine flour and sugar in a medium bowl.
Makes 1 dozen
This week, the season of Lent begins, and I am excited to have a focus during these days of winter. Communal confession and sweet potato biscuits are part of what I anticipate might make this season special to me. What about you??