What Is Lent?
Six years ago Tim and I were living in New Orleans enjoying our first Mardi Gras season. Everything about it was nothing like I was expecting. It was amazing. We both got off work for a week, because it's basically equivalent to Christmas to the people of New Orleans. There are parades almost every night during the Mardi Gras season. At first, we were acting like newbies and getting as many beads as we could. We thought that was the point. Then our amazing friends let us know how to really do Mardi Gras.
Depending on what parade you are at, there are actually "special items" like shoes or coconuts that you are trying to get them to throw at you. If you are thrown one of these items, you are pretty much a Mardi Gras rockstar and you can brag all year about how you caught the shoe or coconut or whatever the special item was. If they won’t throw you the special item, then you at least want a life sized pink snake or sunglasses that light up or something else amazingly useless that you can brag about all night. You also haven't had a good night at a Mardi Gras parade until you have fought over a few of these things with the little children who are standing on ladders trying to catch things (just kidding.. kind of).
So here I am, enjoying my first Mardi Gras season and the fact that I am off work. I go out shopping and I see a woman who looked like she had partied a little too hard the night before. It looked like she had gone to a nightclub, gotten an admittance stamp on the back of her hand, fallen asleep with her forehead on her hand, and then not realized her admittance stamp was now on her forehead. Of course, if I were not in New Orleans and Mardi Gras was not going on, I probably would not be assuming this was what was going on. But given the circmstances, that was my obvious first thought.
Then, about an hour later I see another woman who has the same look. At this point, I am not really sure what is going on..
So, I come home and tell Tim about these women, because I couldn't believe I saw TWO women who had gone out in public and not realized they had their nightclub stamp on their forehead.
Tim looked at me and said, 'Do you not know it's Ash Wednesday?'
Ash Wednesday? What?
I had no idea what that meant. Or why that would mean these girls would have that on their forehead.
And six years later, I am still trying to figure out my thoughts on it.
I have never observed lent. To be honest, I have never understood it. I know it isn't mandatory so I always skip it.
This year, as I was thinking about and praying about if I should participate, these thoughts came to me:
We are celebrating that Christ defeated death and is alive and is with us (Easter) in 46 days.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27
God asks us to fast Matthew 6:16-18
In Luke 2 we see a story of a woman who is fasting and praying and worshiping, night and day.
This year, from now until Easter, I will pray and fast and worship daily. I will take this time to be intentionally thankful for what Christ has done for us. I plan to read the book of Matthew and meditate on Christ's life and all that he has done of us.
What are your thoughts on Lent? Have you ever observed it?