What I Know About Lent

What I Know About Lent

Not much. I remember some of my friends from the Catholic church in my town mentioned Lent. Didn’t it have something to do with the school cafeteria always serving fish sandwiches on Fridays?

Some people I respect take Lent very seriously. Either it is already a part of their faith traditions or they have adopted it as a way of becoming more aware of the coming Easter season – more aware of the work of Jesus in the earth. In them.

Other people do not take Lent very seriously. I’ve heard that bars in cities with large Catholic universities are littered with drunk students bearing the Ash Wednesday cross on their foreheads. I suppose that is one way to mark pilgrimage into the defining season of our faith, but . . .  Or what about the ones who give up grape-flavored soda or hot drinks with whipped cream. Good job?

Based on these statements, I don’t know very much about Lent or how to engage effectively with its traditional meaning. I hope to learn more. (Enlighten me with your experiences, your links, your book lists, please!)

But this week I heard a man from Egypt speak, and, in the midst of telling us about his sixteen year-old daughter learning to drive, he casually mentioned, “She is in Christ.” And when he spoke those words I felt peace settle. It was a strange, beautiful moment. In fact, I turned instinctively to Dan because I have a habit of repeating in his ear a phrase that has struck me as unusually meaningful, and he was already turning to me.

“I love that,” I whispered.

“I knew you would,” he smiled.

As much as I don’t know about Lent, I think it has to do with that phrase, being in Christ.

So for now, this is my make-shift Lenten prayer , that I would also be found in Christ.




*photo credit: TheGreenRoom

18 Replies to “What I Know About Lent”

  1. I’m still learning about Lent, myself. But I will say that the Ash Wednesday service is so moving – a call to repentance, a reminder that we are forgiven. The solemnity of the ashes on my forehead made my eyes fill with tears yesterday.

    I’ve come to observe Lent as an adult, first as a way of participating in the life of my church in Oxford, then as a way of becoming more aware of the rhythm of the church year, the approach of Easter. This year I’ve given up Twitter, in an effort to invite more silence and focus into my life. (I know it’s not a great sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, but it means something to me.)

    Rachel Held Evans had a fabulous post the other day on ideas/resources for Lent: http://rachelheldevans.com/40-ideas-for-lent-2011. Lots of great stuff there.

    1. Katie, I should probably just go live in Oxford for a little while to learn about Lent, don’t you think? : ) That actually is something I regret about living in the country – no traditional churches to visit to check out a special service such as Ash Wednesday. Thanks for the link!

  2. I never knew much about lent…and really, I still don’t. However, last year at this time I found myself living with a group of nuns in Egypt who took lent very seriously. I ate fish nearly everyday or something called “mashi” without meat. As tired as I became of the fresh catch of the day from the Nile, I saw something I coveted in those ladies. They were some of the most humble servants I have ever known, doing what they knew to honor the One who died for them. There were so many rituals I did not understand, but I could see they found it meaningful. It was clearly their joy to serve me, their foreign guest, so far removed from their way of life. I could go on and on with stories about them, but I will just sum it up with saying I will never be the same.

  3. I was blessed enough to be sent to a Lutheran school for 6 years. I didn’t appreciate the liturgical calendar much at the time but since then the seasons of Lent and Advent stick with me. (I actually was just talking about this with Sherry at Life Church.)
    Now Lent has become a time to evaluate my life and what in it is not producing life, the things that Christ died for. It has been very sobering. The fasting of something that I will miss also is part of it some years, this one included. Specifically this year I feel like there is going to be a giving up of my “life” and it will be uncomfortable but… and that is a BIG but… I know that Easter is coming. Death and sorrow now but New Life is coming. My prayer this season is for God, in His mercy, to lead me to the altar, to consume the things that are not beautiful, precious, or pure so that all that remains looks like Him. I think I will be adding to be “in Him”.
    This link has a good view on Lent from a protestant viewpoint: http://www.crivoice.org/cylent.html

  4. Okay, we never celebrated Lent growing up but I’m geeking out on it this year. I went to my first-ever Ash Wednesday service and it was profoundly touching.

    And I’m trying to live a more intentional life for the next 40 days, instead of just giving up something I like. This mission seems to resonate throughout my life, in big and small ways.

    1. I would love you join you at the Ash Wednesday service in your beautiful church someday, Alison.

      By the way, I was just thinking of you today and here you are!

  5. I really thought that I was much alone in not understanding Lent. This year it really hit me to wonder why. So I as well need to do my part of hitting the research.

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