By Roxie Tolbert
"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" Matthew 20:18-19
Our daughter-in-law, Wendy, got a phone call, a few weeks before Easter, from our granddaughter Trisha, who was away at college. Trisha was very upset and told her mother that she had just found out that she wasn't doing Lent correctly. She said that she had just learned that she was supposed to give up meat for Lent and instead she had been giving up her favorite daily fancy coffee drink from Starbucks. Trisha was attending St. Mary's College, a private Catholic college, and part of the requirement was attending worship services. Apparently it was suggested in the service that it was appropriate to fast from meat. Wendy explained to Trisha that, as she didn't care one way or the other if she ate meat, it would not be a sacrifice for her; so to give up her precious coffee drink was, of course, the right way to fast during Lent for her.
I've had several interesting conversations around doing Lent—everything from being told that, as a Methodist, I can't do Lent because it's only for Catholics (and, no, this bit of wisdom did not come from someone who was actually Catholic) to friends asking me if I do Lent, how I do Lent and if they should do Lent the way I do. My first reaction when someone asked about doing Lent instead of observing Lent was that Lent is a Christian season, not an activity. After giving it a little more thought, I realized that I couldn't be more incorrect. Lent is something you do.
Lent is our time of spiritual preparation before Easter. Preparation, any kind of preparation, requires activity. Some suggested activities are fasting, spiritual discipline, repentance, moderation, and self-denial. Lent is the time when we make an extra effort to draw closer to God – to really think about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us—the gift that was given to us. The suggested activities provide both time and constant reminders for us during Lent—something to keep us centered during this special time.
So, how do we do Lent? We do it in the way that is the most meaningful to each of us. We do it in the way that brings us closer to our amazing God who loves us so much that he gave his Son to us and for us. However you do lent, do Lent.
Lord, we seek to come closer to you through our Lenten disciplines. May they be a gateway between You and each of us. Amen