Friday night we went to the Holy Name Church friday fishfry– one of the premier lenton fishfrys of Omaha. It was a cultural experience. We had to park a couple blocks out, and the parking lot was full of people who were consuming beer, hanging around and congregating. We entered the school (associated with the school) and made our way past literally hundreds of people just standing around in the halls, past the T-shirts for sale to the cafeteria, filled with hundreds of people, where we paid/donated $10 and waited in line before a magnificent giant fish-breader (Which, we were told, had formerly been used by a donut shop which went out of business) and eventually we got our delicious fish and sat with the masses to enjoy it. It was a feast for lent, and we were surrounded by a huge congregation of Catholics and others like ourselves who were visiting.
In some sense lent always seems underwhelming. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan, and I give up meat and sweets to try to refocus and somehow identify with the suffering of Jesus.
But it is good to spend time actually participating in the Christian calendar universal. Growing up as a low-protestant kid, I had never heard of Lent. Now I know what it is, and have some sense of why to do it and it definitely makes me more aware of how far away easter is! (I grew up on a hog and cattle farm, so meat is normal– necessary even.)
During the lenton season, churches of many sorts have encouraged their people to reflect on what Jesus has done for you, to remember his sacrifices for you, to contemplate how you can more faithfully devote yourself to being a Christian and serving God and also to help you develop self control and discipline.
Reflection is key, and if you don’t normally, this is a particularly good time to give God time to reflect and be quiet to see what God might have for you to do in the world around you.
A few years back, my wife had struggled in her walk and had been part of a particularly difficult church plant which collapsed, and decided to devote herself during lent to church and reflection– and it really helped her a great deal. It was a turning point in her spiritual life at that time.
We often do not pay attention to seasons and tradition as low church (non-Lutheran/liturgical) protestants, but time is human, and being human, to pay attention to times and seasons is part of how we operate, live, and learn.
I hope that this time of year is especially meaningful to you, and that you take special time to let God speak to you, move in your life, and I hope you renew your commitment to serve in this world however God has uniquely positioned you to serve.
May God have mercy on us all.