Lent is to Easter, as Advent is to Christmas. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season. A couple weeks ago, members of my faith community talked over what Lent is about and how we might want to participate in this very important part of the church calendar. To more fully grasp the salvific meaning of Easter, Christians may consider engaging in various Lenten practices/disciplines. For those of us that don’t come from liturgical backgrounds, here are some helpful resources:

As a time of penance and repentence, Lent offers an opportunity for people to seek to be drawn nearer to God. They often choose to give up or “simplify” something from their lives that they discern distracts them from their relationship with God. Or, they may choose to give something up as a way to participate in some semblance of suffering that reminds them of Jesus’s suffering for the world. Actually, these reasons aren’t mutually exclusive; very possibly, one aim leads to the awareness of the other. Come to think of it, they are two sides of the same coin that feed off each other. Jesus suffered not only by being crucified, but also by the choices he made (i.e. what he gave up) while he was alive to stay true in his relationship with his Father, and therefore, his Father’s calling. Christian discipleship DOES involve this kind of suffering, which it makes it a hard path to walk on.

Anyways, one helpful insight that came out of our conversation a few weeks ago is that giving up something should not be done for the sake of giving something up . Rather, it would be formative to our spiritual (and maybe even mental and physical) health to engage in another activity that we would otherwise have no time or energy for–something restorative, something healing, something God can use to transform us more into the character of his Son.

I will posting very soon about what I’m going to do for Lent 2007.