Submitted by Rebekah Chambless
Growing up in the Christian faith, most of the traditions of the church that we observe during the yearly calendar have always been present in my life. It was only after becoming the parent of children in the “question-asking” years that I have found myself in the predicament of trying to explain in simple terms ideas that seem very deep and complex. Hence, our 8-year-old began the litany of questions this year starting with “why is it called Fat Tuesday,” “what does Ash Wednesday mean,” “why do we put ashes on our foreheads and walk around like that?” “why do we give up our favorite things for Lent?”
As I struggle to put these ideas into words that he will understand, I am reminded that Lent and Easter are actually very simple concepts, once we strip away the excess pomp and circumstance. Lent has been observed since the earliest Christian times to commemorate Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert, as a means to remember what He did for us and how much he sacrificed for us. It is the means we use to honor those sacrifices by feeling a small fraction of discomfort to remember the monumental pain and suffering that He experienced on our behalf 2000 years ago.
There is a certain amount of jubilation we are feeling in this Easter season as it seems we are finally beginning to emerge from the period of darkness we have experienced these past two years. It is also humbling to remember the 2000 years of fellow believers that have come before us and the immense trials they experienced that make our past two years seem like a minor inconvenience. We spend the majority of our year preoccupied in joys and trials, both large and small, as well as all manner of mundane and very ordinary days. The gift of Lent is that it persuades us to slow down and simplify, to readjust our perspectives on the big picture of living our lives for Christ and for others, and to focus on the everlasting life to come.
Our 8-year-old grandly set out our Lent sacrifice by authoritatively stating that we are only going to have two sweets per day during Lent. My response was smug laughter and the suggestion that that was not much of a sacrifice, and perhaps we should make it two sweets per week. I quickly was reminded of my own human failings when I realized that I had already achieved my weekly quota of chocolate by noon on Ash Wednesday. It was a fitting start to the Lenten season to realize how deeply we are all in desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness.
God, may my small sacrifice of today remind me of my dependence on You for all the blessings I enjoy. Amen.
Psalm 33:20-22 We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Amen.