Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Southern Baptist Girl Trying to Get Her Lent On

I haven’t been a member of a Southern Baptist church in years but, still, I love the denomination and didn’t “leave” it for any reason except we felt at home in Bible churches here.  Southern Baptist is a part of me.  It’s how I grew up.  And there was no reason for a young girl in a Southern Baptist church in a small town to ever hear of Lent.

B knew it was strange when on Ash Wednesday, I told them I was going to participate in Lent this year.

“We aren’t Catholic!” he belted over Eggo Waffles.

And his bigger concern, “I don’t have to do it, do I?”

To look up the meaning of Lent in the dictionary, it sounds pretty awful:  an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches

But WHY?  That definition leaves me cold because there is no purpose.

As I looked around for a good definition- with the “why”- to share with the kids, here are a few I found:

“Traditionally, Lent is a season of sober, realistic reflection on our own lives and our need for a Savior.  It is a time of turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him.  It is a time to pray that God will renew our love for Him and our dependence on Him.”  Noelle Piper  {This is the one I shared with the kids.}

“Lent is the season when Christians have historically prepared their hearts for Easter with reflection, repentance and prayer.”  Devotions for Lent from the Mosaic Bible

"Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." -- Pope Francis

And my favorite... “Lent is a plodding, definitive crescendo that leads up to the cacophonous noise of Good Friday and the gorgeous aria of Easter.  It’s a season marked by deliberateness and intentionality.”  Eileen Button

 This is the definition I want to have its own life in my home during these 40 days-- a deliberate and intentional reflecting on “God’s Big Story” and how every story shines just a little more light on the cross and the empty tomb and how we, personally and sacrificially, can identify in some small way with the reality of what Jesus did for us.  For my kids to know this and to experience it year in and year out, the anticipation of the darkness and death of Good Friday, the celebration of the LIGHT and LIFE of Easter.... this is rich.  This can help define them.  And me.

In years past, I have observed the days of Lent and we have some traditions in place that help us to remember and anticipate, but in all my 43 years, I have never participated in the the sacrificing, the denial, the fasting... This year, I couldn’t have taken a jet plane and distance myself from the pulling on my heart to do it.  It felt natural and I welcomed it.

Because I needed it.

“Christian fasting is a test to see what desires control us.  Fasting reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us-- or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God.”  John Piper, A Hunger for God

My dependence on Him needed some highlighting in my life.  I needed to exercise my need for Him.  I needed my thoughts to be somewhere other than on myself and my pleasure and my will.  I like how Eileen Button words this:

“Lent challenges us to consider the honest answers to these and other soul-searching questions. [How can we make room for the Savior in our lives?  Can we grasp the reality of Good Friday and live within within its irony?]  It invites us to jump off the hamster wheel of consumption and experience the pinch of abstaining from thoughtless indulgence.”

This “consumption” and “thoughtless indulgence”  set off an alarm in my heart and I wanted to look at these areas- not just physical, tangible things but how I think, what I think about, how I feel-- what truly brings me pleasure.  To remind me, to just feel a little “pinch”, I wanted to deny myself something that I really enjoyed and let God fill that with enjoyment of Him.  More of Him.  Less of me.

More from Ms. Button:  “It’s difficult to grasp what our sense of entitlement does to our bodies and souls.  Our culture worships at the feet of pleasure.”

The grasping can wither the soul.

Lent can highlight at what we are grasping, reveal what is hollow and, praise be to God, Christ can fill it.

More of Him.  Less of me.

And on a lighter note....

I invited the kids to do it with me even though 40 days is a really long time for their ages but I wanted them to have the opportunity.  {I will invite them again the week before Easter.}

To no surprise, Brighton was the first to speak up waving his hand, “I know what I will give up for Lent!”

He was way too excited about it-- that was my first clue this might not be headed in the right direction…..

“The Fresh 20!”  Click here to see how we’ve been eating since January and you will understand my 10 year old’s pain.  {I highly recommend The Fresh 20.  3/4 of our family has enjoyed it!}


Sarah said...

I like that B knows how to work the system :)

Did you give up whipped cream?!

Alyssa said...

You and Emily are on to something with the Fresh 20! So funny that was the first thing B wanted to give up!