“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.”
~ Frederick Buechner
I grew up in a denomination that placed Lent in the category of icons and confessionals. In a word, it was “Catholic”, and every associated practice was considered suspect. As a result, I never understood the reason folks accepted a smudge on their forehead each year on Ash Wednesday or why they would speak of what they were giving up for Lent. Only after reading and teaching from the great devotional writers in Christian history did I discover the rich heritage and great logic of annually exposing one’s self to rigorous self examination and righteous self denial. Preaching these days in a different denominational tradition–one that embraces the liturgical calendar, I find that more than any other benefit, Lent paves the way for deeper identification with the Cross and higher exultation in the Resurrection; Easter dazzles the mind and heart with hope following roughly 40 days of darkness and despair.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, I will share Scripture and meditations designed to foster the paschal rhythm of the Christian life. I make no promises that the path we’ll choose will be an easy one as we climb together to the Place of the Skull and view past, present, and future from the Cross; however, identifying as best we can with the crucified Savior and resurrected Lord, we may come upon ourselves along the way.