I've come to really enjoy the season of Lent. Time seems to go so quickly, and some years Easter can be barely more than a signal of Spring coming, or the end of the Spring semester. Coming from religious traditions that never really celebrated Lent, Todd and I have begun to introduce aspects of the holy tradition into our family in order to help prepare us for Easter.
Lent, at the most basic level, involves giving something up.....as children, we would joke about giving up things like brussel sprouts or homework, but as adults, I think I've probably been guilty of the same kind of thing, but on a more subtle level. After Todd's talk last Friday on Colossians 2, it got me thinking about the motives behind the religious traditions I practice....beautiful traditions like Communion, daily time in the Word and in prayer, praying over my children's beds, and even sacrifices we make for Lent.....
Traditions are intended to lead us into closer communion with God. But if I'm honest, there are times when practicing those traditions can become the end, rather than the means to an end....something to make me feel like I've communed with God, when in all actuality, I've allowed God to be a very small part of that tradition...checking things off my spiritual to-do list. I love how Paul reminds us that they are "a shadow of the things that were to come"....a means to the end....Christ.
Christ's death and resurrection has made it possible for us to be in beautiful communion with Him. There are wonderful, rich traditions that can help us understand and appreciate and enter into that communion, but during this Lenten season, we are challenged to make the focus Christ, and not our sacrifice.
As our family discusses our Lenten sacrifices, there are complaints that one thing will be too "hard" to give up, other things not hard enough...a good reminder about sacrifice comes from a story in 2 Samuel 24, "The King replied, 'I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing'".
I'm praying the discussion won't end with what we're giving up....but every time we're reminded that we're not doing this, or not eating this or that, I pray that will lead us into worshipping Christ with new eyes and new understanding.