Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I don't do Lent

Lent is "a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day.

The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial."

I'm not really a fan.

I know a lot of people who give something up for Lent - usually as a jump-start to a self-improvement campaign. People give up sweets, or junkfood, or ice cream, or alcohol, or meat, or swearing, or TV, or taking the elevator.

Don't get me wrong - that's all awesome. Life is about constant improvement and change.

The thing about Lent is, the sacrifice is supposed to be done in faith; a penance, to honor Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. If you're someone who gets that, and you have faith that Jesus is your savior, and you want to honor His sacrifice, rock on.

Sacrifices done for any other reason are certainly admirable - but they're not penance.

I attend a nondenominational Christian church. I struggle a bit with the subtle hypocrisies I face, since I don't agree with every point of view. One thing I have learned is, in order to truly have faith, you need to understand the traditions and beliefs, and how you can honor them best.

I believe in a forgiving, loving, gracious God. I believe He wants us to be the happiest, healthiest, most successful version of our best selves. I believe He placed us each here with a purpose, and finding and fulfilling that purpose is the best way to truly honor His sacrifice.

To me, the idea of Lent seems to suggest that we are always living in a way that goes against God's plan - but that somehow, we can set that right during those six weeks.

I disagree. The God I know is not that harsh or judgmental. He is not looking to punish, or take away. He has more faith is us.

I think if we strive to always live within His plan, He doesn't much care about six weeks in the spring. I also believe that any time we lose our way, we can come back to God. I think God would accept anyone, anytime - and all we need to do is ask.