So tomorrow starts Lent. For those of you who know me (which is maybe one person, since the rest of you are
stalkers devoted readers) I was also raised in the Baptist tradition, one of which is pretty hit or miss on this whole tradition. I was not fortunate enough to grow up in churches where this was something we talked about or were encouraged to practice. Just one more thing wrong with the Baptist church…ANYWAYS. Tomorrow is Lent, and I am actually going to attempt to participate this year. I have never done this before, so there’s no telling how it will go. However, last week at BSU (Baptist Student Union, for those of you who don’t know) we had a professor kind of give a brief overview of it, and for whatever reason I decided it was important for me to participate. So I’m going to… Or at least I’m going to try. The first thing I wanted to know was, how to back this up biblically. Since I didn’t grow up learning and participating I wanted to see what the Bible has to say about it. Unfortunately, there is nothing explicitly written about this Lent idea. The only thing I could find that would be close to a “hey, here’s lent, now go” kind of thing was in Daniel (weird, I know). In Daniel 9, he comes before the Lord and prays in a rather pleading fashion, and in verse 3 he says: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes (NIV).” The only reason this stuck out to me was because 1) tomorrow is Ash Wednesday 2) Daniel fasts 3) He comes before God in prayer. Now, a lot of people have done this through the Bible, so that’s why I don’t see it as the precursor to Lent. Most of the passages I found (again, oddly all in the Old Testament, except for 1) are speaking of ashes in regards to being mournful. Since I have always viewed Lent as a remembrance thing, the doom and gloom didn’t really work for me.
So, I am assuming that this is a creation of the Catholic Church. I say Catholic because they’re the most devout about this whole thing and they’re the oldest, so they win. Go Catholics. Sidenote: Does anyone else find it ironic the Pope said he would resign just 2 days before Lent began? Guess he gave up the Papacy for Lent….too soon? Sorry.
So… This has probably already been established amongst you liturgical calendar savvy Christians, but I’m not there yet, so go with me. For this whole Lent season, I have chosen to only drink one cup of coffee a day. Some of you laugh and think that’s ridiculous, but considering I drink upwards of 6 a day (pretty much drinking it through the day) and have been doing so for over 5 years now. I think it’s safe to say that giving it up all together is not a viable option as I am in college and don’t feel like dying at 22. So, going to 1 cup a day is going to be rather difficult, I’ve already had people question me about it. Which is good. So since I’m giving that up, or cutting back, whatever you want to call it, I am also going to add something. Mostly because I hear that’s how this thing works.
Luke 22 talks about the last supper and in verse 17 through 19 it says “After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me'(NIV).”
So again, you liturgical people might be laughing at me. Having grown up in church, I should know all of this, but my excuse is I was raised Baptist. For anyone who knows Southern Baptist Churches in NC, this makes sense to you. However, this is why I want to do Lent. To prepare, and be reminded daily of what is to come. Yes I know in general this is why we do it. But I want to be serious about it. I am going to start reading through a book (that I have yet to pick out, I’m between 2 currently) and I want them to be able to apply to my life.
I’m not a very disciplined person, never have been. However, I’m hoping this process will help that, among many other things in my life. Lent is supposed to be a reminder of the awful days leading up to the crucifixion, but we also have something to look forward to… the Resurrection. The thing that makes this life worth living. Had it not been for the resurrection, there would be absolutely no point in this life. But there was a resurrection, there is a point to this life, and it goes far beyond my love of coffee.
So as I sit here and wait for my 2nd pot of coffee to brew (and yes I know it’s only 10am) I think about these things. I think about how difficult the next 40 days will be, but I’m kind of excited about it. I’m excited to see how this journey changes me. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll go through the 40 days reading my book, and drinking my 1 cup of coffee a day, and that will be the end of it. But, I choose to believe there’s something more here.
Who all is taking this Lent thing seriously this year? What are you (the maybe 2 people who read this thing) giving up for Lent?