Today is Ash Wednesday. For some, it’s only significance is that it follows Fat Tuesday- an excuse for partying! But Ash Wednesday is the official beginning of Lent – a period of time (46 days) that leads up to Easter Sunday. In some religious traditions, people will attend a service today and receive an ash smudge or ash cross (made from the ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches) on their forehead as a symbol of humility and repentance. Many will also observe a day-long fast today.
Over the coming weeks many people will “give up something for Lent.” The list is quite endless. It could be coffee, or chocolate, or TV, or Facebook. Some may refrain from eating meat or smoking throughout Lent. The purpose is to enter a spiritual mindset that will allow the individual to focus on the work of Christ.
Ash Wednesday and Lent may not be part of your church’s tradition but observing Lent could be a meaningful spiritual experience for you. Instead of giving something up perhaps you might add something – a spiritual discipline to your life over these 46 days. The benefit of observing a new spiritual discipline over that time is that it will have become a spiritual habit – something you will likely continue practicing beyond the 46 days. My wife suggested that this might be a good time for couples to take the “40 Day Prayer Challenge” mentioned in a previous post and pray with your spouse for at least 5 minutes everyday for 40 (or 46) days. This could be a period where you would actually tithe 10% or more or read your Bible daily. Is there a spiritual discipline that is absent from your life that you might add?
How are you going to observe Lent this year? By giving up something or by adding something?