Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lent Backwards

The Easter buffet at The
Carolina Inn is a bounteous
feast to follow the fasting
of the Lenten season..
Despite the fact that Jesus says that our fasting is supposed to be private (Matthew 6), I have written about Lent several times… like the awful time I gave up french fries, or the unbearable time I gave up Facebook, or the time I laughably attempted to give up the unchecked pursuit of my own agenda… 

I wasn’t raised in a tradition that observes Lent, and despite regular Sunday church attendance and choir practice on Thursdays, my family didn’t speak of spiritual things… but in my later years, I’ve embraced Lent as a part of the rhythm of the spiritual year… We join with Christ in His sufferings for 6 six weeks by denying ourselves candy or fries or what have you, then we celebrate His glorious resurrection on Easter (in our case with an all-church rendition of Handel's famous Hallelujah Chorus and an obscenely generous buffet lunch at The Carolina Inn).

On Easter at the Chapel Hill Bible Church all the 
people stand and sing Hallelujah! It sounds like this.
When I was a kid, no one I knew gave up stuff for Lent… that I knew of. I did know one Catholic family. Did they observe Lent? Maybe their mom didn’t serve meat during that time? I can't know. Anyway, now it seems like it’s becoming more of a thing that people are doing, Catholic or not. I can’t begin to guess why it’s gotten to be a popular thing. I mean, far be it from me to assume where anyone’s heart is at. I can barely keep up with my own. 

As for me, well, I’m not going to lie – I'm carrying a bit of a mixed bag of reasons… I often choose sweets as my thing to give up with the unspoken hope that my body will recover from all the delish cakes and candy and gravy and stuffing I’ve crammed into it over the holidays. Real spiritual, right?

Since I'm not giving up sweets,
I've eaten nearly all of this fantastic
caramel cake Tom got me for
As for this year… a couple of weeks ago, I posted this on Facebook: “It's been Lent for three days and I still haven't decided what to give up…” And of course the nuts in the peanut gallery were eager to recommend that I give up all sorts of things from Facebook to procrastination to Lent itself. It was a nice chuckle – until this one guy left this comment: “Just give up your sins to Christ Jesus. This is all you need to do to see the Kingdom of Heaven. Believe in Jesus. John 3:16.

I love that guy!!! First of all, y’all know how much I love John 3:16. That there is my jam. And second of all, this is what I’ve been writing about, isn’t it? Faith alone. Jesus alone. Not that people who give up Lent are attempting to purchase or influence their salvation… Like I said, it’s more of a spiritual exercise… 

Nonetheless, I’ve decided that this year, that I actually AM giving up giving up things for Lent. So that I can focus on the sufficiency of the Jesus’s sacrifice to achieve our salvation. Once we embrace this, nothing we do or don’t do can add or subtract from this.

“Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s what Paul said in Romans 8. 

So maybe I’m doing the Lent thing backwards this year – sacrifice then celebrate, right? But to remember the true fact that Jesus paid it all… This is always in season!

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