I have never participated in Ash Wednesday or Lent. I didn’t grow up doing so and haven’t felt a push from the Holy Spirit to begin doing so since then either.
It was funny to see what everyone was giving up for 40 days on Twitter and Facebook this week. The only thing I’m giving up, is giving up. This isn’t to say I’m being critical of those who are participating in Lent. The only danger I see in it is using the giving up of something to prove our spirituality to others.
But this trend for Protestant believers to embrace an ancient and mostly Catholic traditions intrigues me. I read a number of great blog posts on the topic this week that I thought I’d share with you (emphasis added is mine).
Julie Clawson said (full post here):
Lent isn’t about denial; it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ’s sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ like ourselves. Transformation is about letting ourselves be filled with God’s presence so that we can be shaped by God’s grace. Our acts of kenosis — denying ourselves in order to empty ourselves enough to allow God to fill us — are means to an end. They are disciplines that prepare us to be transformed. We deny ourselves so that we can be reborn as new creations — to live more fully as the kingdom citizens God desires us to be.
Josh Miles said (full post here):
The season of Lent is about death, and ultimately new life. You see, we cannot raise things from the dead. Only God can. But, as long as we just put off certain behaviors and tendencies we can revive them at a later date. These things need to die, and that can only happen if we ourselves die to them.
Skye Jethani said (full post here):
The symbol of ashes on the forehead is a powerful reminder of our human weakness-both moral and physical. We are creatures of sin, prone to selfishness, greed, and all kinds of injustice. And the ash reminds us of our ultimate fate; we all live under the shadow of death and we cannot escape the grave.