Today is the first day of Lent. 40 weekdays including Saturdays until Easter Sunday. Google
or read a quick synopsis here.
The church of my formative years never emphasised this custom of fasting or 'giving up something' for Lent, or at least I never noticed. There were buildup events for Palm Sunday, Passover and Good Friday but very little said about Lent. Easter Sunday was where it was at. Everyone dressed up and there was special music and crowds overflowing the sanctuary into makeshift seating in the foyer, not to mention lots of candy at home. I never wondered about the neglecting of Lent really, though after reading some online history, it could have been in line with the Protestant disagreement with Carnival/Mardi Gras
and Fat Tuesday, which excuse indulgence based on future repentance during Lent. Kind of makes sense, in a non-denominational-no-confession-booths-to-be-found kind of way. For many years the church met in a high school gymnasium
. I can just imagine these confession booths in a sort of cardboard voters booth style, in the back next to the concession stand and the trophy case.
Over the last few years it has been interesting cluing into American ideas of various Lent fasts. Many of them traditionally involve food, like giving up chocolate, or meat, or french fries, or gummy candy, or fois gras or something. Others involve technology, like turning off the TV and/or shelving the Wii or PS3. The idea is to sacrifice. Over the 40 days the sacrifice will illicit moments of meditation on the ultimate sacrifice. And the hope is that God reveals Himself, providing strength and perseverance to complete the commitment. We examine ourselves and turn to the throne of Grace, to be refined toward holiness. And at the end, you may not even care about that thing anymore. The profundity of Christ's resurrection affects you on a deeper level than all previous years, amplifying the celebration of our Savior's victory over death.