To Whom It May Concern:
Growing up, the season of Lent was a foreign concept to me. I knew what it was. But, I was raised in churches that didn’t stress the bits and pieces of Lent I knew about. My understanding of Lent was, that it was something my Catholic friends did. Typically, they showed up to school one Wednesday with a smudge on their forehead and ate fish on Friday. Some of them also gave up a personal bad habit, and cut back on it, or completely abstained, for the period of Lent. Most of the time, they went right back to the activity they had given up. I shouldn’t single them out. Because, I did have other friends observe Lenten traditions. You had the people who clearly didn’t have this issue before Lent, but were going to “give up sex” for Lent. There were those who used Lent as a diet. Others who seemed to give up something out of superstition, like they’d suffer bad karma if they didn’t. They’d usually pick something that was not enjoyable, so they could “give up something.”
The church your mom worked at, when we met, observed Lent. And for many reasons I won’t get into here, that didn’t impact me. But, when we moved here, and started at the church we’re at, I was struck, that this “megachurch” observed Lent. Talked about it a lot. Did the whole “Ash Wednesday” thing. It was totally foreign to me. And, for the most part, it is. I probably will never observe Lent, the way my youthful observations understood it. To me, the few weeks leading up to Easter were just a way to look forward to the ultimate victory gained in the death, burial, and resurrection. And, now, as a more mature adult, I know that neither myself, nor my friends, had a great grasp of the period of Lent.
Lent is the 46 day period preceding Easter, traditionally defined as 40 days of fasting, and 6 days of feasting. Without placing utmost importance in the number 40, it is worth noting, that the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years, the rains of the flood lasted 40 days, and Jesus, while fasting, was tempted in the wilderness over a period of 40 days. There are also some, who believe that the 3 days Jesus was in the tomb, was a period of 40 hours. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day to serve as a reminder of our mortality. The 6th Sunday in Lent, is known as Palm Sunday. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, in yet another way He was making it abundantly clear to the religious leaders, that He is God. As he rode in on a donkey, people laid down garments, and small tree branches, like palm branches. The Friday of that week, is Good Friday. Which, if the story ended there, wouldn’t actually be good. Good Friday, is the day of remembrance of Jesus death and burial. And that next Sunday, Easter. The resurrection.
This year, as our church prepared our hearts for the Lenten season, they discussed what Lent is about. I’m not one for ritual. I’ve seen it far to many times, in far too many people, myself included, that the ritual becomes the object of our obsession, not the object the ritual was designed to remind us about. So, as our pastor started talking about it, my eyes glazed over. My ears shut down. Not because I think they’re wrong. Not at all. But because, in my preconceived notions, I wasn’t the least bit interested in partaking. That’s when our pastor said, that, my traditional understanding of Lent, was wrong. Oh, I’m wrong? That perked up my ears. No one likes to be wrong, and I was sure I wasn’t. I was already carrying on a conversation in my head discounting what ever points he could possibly come up with.
He’s going to say that the season of Lent isn’t about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, that those didn’t happen this time of year. Nope. He didn’t say that. He’s going to say that we have to become vegetarians and can only have fish. Nope. Not that. What did I just hear? I think he said that my concept of what my Catholic friends did was wrong. I can nod my head in agreement. Oh, wait. He just said my concept wasn’t complete either. Lent isn’t about fasting from something. Lent, the season, looks forward to the conquering of death. The promise of eternal life. The atonement of sins. The change from Judaism, to Christ-followers, to Christians. The dramatic paradigm change in worldview. Again, the focus of Lent, isn’t what you are giving up. The who you were. The focus of Lent, is on what you use to replace that from which you fast. The focus of Lent, is the change. The new. The new you. The new covenant in Jesus blood. Lent isn’t complete as just a fast. Lent isn’t complete as just a feast. Lent is best represented by the change in you, from the activity you pick up, as well as what you gave up.
This Lent season, I’m focusing on you. Not that I’m not focused on you. I have an understanding at work, that come a certain time, I’m going home. It’s important to me to be able to see you, and celebrate your day, before you go to bed. Most days, I’m home well before then. Most days, I’m here to make your dinner. Play. Bathe you. Tickle you. Cuddle with you. Be your jungle gym. Someday, soon, we hope, go running with you. So, what am I doing? I like to spend my evenings on the computer. I find it to be a way to relax, and shut my brain off. I mean, really, have you seen the internet? It looks like I’m not the only one who shuts off their brain while on the computer. Instead, while I’m listening to the TV drone on, I’ll be blogging. I don’t want you to think that these past few months, we’ve not thought this important. Instead, I want you to know that your Mom and I, have only a set amount of energy each day. And, we’d rather spend every last bit of it, making your today, the best today ever. But, while today is important. As your Dad, I want you to know that we’re continually focused on your tomorrow too. And what better way to do it, than to write things here for you to read. Someday. And, as this first year is flying by, and nearly over, I’m sure that someday is far sooner than we realize.
Love you so much buddy!