A friend asked "What are you giving up for Lent?" That particular facebook status triggered a remarkable number of comments. Some were apathetic, some were confused -- isn't Lent a Catholic tradition? -- some were giving up sugar and facebook.
I am giving up marshmallows. For me, this a difficult thing to do especially just now, at the height of Peep season.
It occurs to me today that the world at large celebrates Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Faschnaught Day (Pennsylvania tradition of stuffing yourself with doughnuts the day before you give up all fried foods until after Easter). I have even been to Mardi Gras parties at non-denominational churches.
In the same way that the pagan Halloween no longer reminds anyone of All-Saints Day, Lent is being overshadowed by Fat Tuesday traditions. But why should any Christians allow atheists, pagans, and humanists to change our traditions of symbolic sacrifice and contemplation of the Lord into a forgotten excuse for hedonistic revelry?
I was raised in a faith polar opposite of any high church traditions, the church calendar was round after round of seasonal missionary trips, community outreach, and potluck dinners -- don't get me wrong I love seasonal missionary trips, community outreach, and potluck dinners -- but the liturgical traditions of the Christian faith are lovely too.
I choose to observe Lent, not because I believe it is commanded, but because I believe it is an aide to worship.
Lent is the time of reminder, the time of sacrifice. It is the forty days leading up to Good Friday when Christ gave his life for us. How beautiful to remind ourselves of His sacrifice for us by using this time to give up something for Him.
Lent is the time when I think how small my soul must be that Christ would die on the cross for my sins and I find it difficult to give up marshmallows or chocolate for a mere forty days. How much He must love us!