Giving up Lent for Lent
A few years ago, I stopped struggling with my bad attitude toward Lent. I gave up Lent for Lent. I skipped Ash Wednesday, made no promises to God, and instituted no rigorous prayer schedule. I wanted to enjoy one March with no onerous spiritual obligations.The full essay is online here: Giving up Lent.
An odd thing happened, however, during my Lenten non-observance. I began to understand and experience Lent in new and deeper ways. When freed from expectations and requirements, sermons and scriptures spoke to my soul. By the end of Lent, I found myself willingly attending extra services, including two Good Friday liturgies.
It worth noting that the goal of Lent is to connect one to God. The reformer Martin Luther found that Lent as practiced in his own time was often all show with no substance. Luther publicly ate sausages on Fridays in Lent, advocating inward change, not outward piety alone. This is not so different from the Prophet Joel who wrote, "Rend your hearts and not your garments" referring to the practice of tearing your clothes to show you were repentent. He preferred a change of heart to tearing fabric.
In my experience, the spiritual disciplines of Lent have helped nurture my faith and my connection to God. Yet, we must remember the goal and never let outward signs of faith get in the way of our actual relationship with God. Right?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor+