Though some of the following on the list will be light-hearted and meant to make you laugh, I do want us to take seriously the next statement I share. I did not know how the Lenten season connected to Easter until I was in college. Yes, let that sink in for a minute. Put your eyes back on that sentence. Read it again. Ready to move on? Are you sure?
Where were the adults to explain to me what Lent was all about? I knew that for six weeks before Easter we had special Wednesday night worship services and that towards the beginning of those Wednesdays we would mark our foreheads with ashes. I knew that they were usually somber. And I remember my High School vocal teacher telling us that Lent was a good season to try to sing different parts in the hymnal as we prepared for sight-reading contest. After all, no one knew the Lenten hymns anyway . . .
Lent is an important season in which we prepare our hearts to recognize the life, suffering and death of Christ. It is recognition that sacrifices are important to our relationship with God, and that those sacrifices bring life on Easter Sunday! So, here are some serious and some silly things that I wish I would have known . . .
#1. We don’t just put ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday so that people will look at us weird for the rest of the day. And we don’t do it so that people will know we are Christian either! We mark our forehead to recognize our mortality. We should talk with our young people about the human condition. We could talk to them about how amazing it is that God sent a human for us to follow. Wow!
#2. We don’t give things up just to kick an addiction to caffeine or sugar. We sure do not give up fast food so that we can lose weight! We do not add a walk to our daily routine to get our heart rate up. We do all of these things to draw closer to God. We take up something new or give something up out of a desire to connect with God on a deeper level.
#3. Sundays are not a day given by God so that we can break from all we are learning/doing/changing because of Lent. They are not a day to stop our practice so as to not go crazy from our lack of diet coke. Instead, they are days to recognize that Easter is coming. They are a day to give thanks to God for the ways in which we see ourselves growing from our disciplines during the season. Consider telling the youth around you about the ways that you are growing in your faith. And ask them about their journey!
#4. Lent does not have to be some awful time that we are somber in worship and waiting for God to strike us dead at anytime for how awful we are. Instead, it can be a time where we realize that God loves us just the way we are and desires for us to grow. Talk to a youth you care about . . . tell them how much they are loved even though they make mistakes!
#5. Lent is not just the stuff that annoys us from the dryer (in fact that stuff is spelled differently anyway.) It is a season that brings us closer to God. Make a covenant with a young person who trusts you. Promise to pray for one another. Pick a book from the bible and read/discuss it together. Fast and keep one another accountable. Whatever you do, talk about it. Know that God desires to be close to you.
by Emily Carroll
youTheology Mentor Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor