Poll: Are you observing Lent?

February 25, 2009

Ash WednesdayLent begins today. It is traditionally a time for Christians to “give something up” as a kind of fast for 40 days, a journey to the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

…At least, it is for people in churches that observe the Christian calendar. I haven’t been in a church like that since I was a kid. Evangelical churches have discarded the liturgy, and with it, the liturgical calendar.

In my household, we light Advent candles using a ritual I made up. But we don’t have anything like that for Lent. Do you?

Update: Check out this fascinating idea of carbon fasting for Lent.
…And I posted the Lent poll results.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

14 responses to Poll: Are you observing Lent?

  1. Not literally doing the ashes, but we are talking about Lent. Tonight at HG we’ll be doing some repentance, searching our hearts and seeking God as to what He might have us sacrifice in this season. We will end Lent with a Passover Seder the Wednesday before Easter.

  2. Very cool, Helen, to do it as a home group. Maybe you can report back and tell us how the evening went…

  3. Is there a reason why you celebrate Advent or considering taking part of Lent? Why do man made holidays take precedent over ones set in place by God? Why is it that the church celebrates things that were not even celebrated by Jesus or his disciples (Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc.), and yet things like Passover, that was put into place by God and followed by Jesus, aren’t given a second thought?

  4. Brandi, I’d like to hear other people weigh in on your question. But it makes me curious about you! What do you do?

  5. Jon,
    Thanks for discussing this topic. I have grown up in the church and have never participated in these rituals (specifically Lent and Advent). As I’ve gotten older and have a family, I find myself drawn to them. Looking forward to other’s input.

  6. Joe, you are not alone! I think there is something about family, learning about the rhythms of life, and wanting to create family moments that draws us back to ritual. Like, for birthdays, what’s up with the cake and the candles? I remember Jor Bratko talked about rituals without meaning (blowing out candles as an example) and how part of our job is to give them meaning, or come up with new rituals that do.
    I described my advent ritual in this post (wow, back in 2003). But I would love to hear what people do for Lent, especially as a family. (Not the update above to a cool link.)

  7. Tonight went really well. We talked about humility and pride. We talked about the importance of turning away from sin and confessing our sins to one another.
    After worship we had a time of silence and I handed out index cards and pencils. We asked the Lord how we’ve sinned and wrote down what he told us. We also asked if He would have us give up something or do something different in this season.We then broke up in small groups and shared from our cards and prayed for each other.
    It was great to see the humility and for people to be open. I love the idea of giving up things so we can get more of the Lord.

  8. i don’t get the pole question. “i believe”..in lent? in Jesus?
    as for us, it was kinda encouraged in church growing up, but it seemed like bs, so i didn’t do it. if something’s bad for you, why only give it up during a specific time. if it’s not bad for you, why cause yourself to suffer? never felt more than the slightest inkling to participate.
    that said, when lisa and i first started dating (our first date was ten years ago tomorrow), she announced that she had given up boys for lent (the first and only time she’s participated), so we spent tons of time together, but i didn’t kiss her until lent was over. last day of lent was ruby joe’s album release party. my band played and at midnight i asked her to be my girlfriend. then we went back to my place and smooched.
    so i think that God used lent to force us to accept His timing, but it’s not something i’ve been drawn back to in the past 10 years.

  9. Well Jon, at the moment, we take part in Passover every year. When we first started doing this, it raised many questions about other holidays. I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about them all. We still celebrate Christmas…I see no harm in it. As for Easter, I try not to make a big deal about it. It’s hard, because I do have those family traditions surrounding it. And I do think they are important. But I would rather celebrate His resurrection 3 days after Passover, than some random day based on pagan rituals. If I know the day it happened, why not celebrate it then? His resurrection has so much to do with Passover and His sacrifice, that it just makes more sense to me. This also goes for me not taking part in Good Friday services. If Jesus rose 3 days after he was crucified….Friday to Sunday isn’t 3 days.
    Passover is also the reason why I struggle with communion. I haven’t come to a definite conclusion about this, but it’s something I continue to dig deeper about. I don’t judge anyone based on their family practices. But I am disappointed in the resistance to talk about these things within church. How can it ever be a bad thing to study the Bible more and talk about it!

  10. Nathan, I’m curious where you got this idea that Lent is about giving up something that is bad for you (only to take it up again). Can you elaborate? That would certainly turn me off!

  11. well, i think boys is a good example of that sort of thing. she was just too into boys and felt like giving up on pursing them for a while would be helpful.
    in my church it was all about people giving up sugar or chocolate or tv. stuff that they’d probably been dedicating too much time doing, but instead of ratcheting it down, they use lent as an excuse to “give it up,” with no real intent of making a commitment to change their overall use.
    spiritual dieting.

  12. Brandi, the calendar separation of Easter from Passover is, I think, one of the blunders of the early church leaders. Our home group did a Seder a few years back to see what it was like. But the most striking thing that made me see communion in a new way was when I went to my brother’s bar mitzvah. At the end of the worship service, and the beginning of the shared meal, the rabbi lifted up the break, then the wine—and I suddenly realized that what Jesus did was take common elements of communal worship and repurpose them!
    BTW it doesn’t say Jesus rose three days later. Rather, it is “on the third day.” Friday is day one, and they had to hurriedly deal with his body before the Sabbath. They didn’t even have time to anoint the body with spices. Day two is the Sabbath, so they couldn’t do the anointing then. The ladies had to wait until Sunday morning—day three. So Holy Week makes sense.
    For me, the two great seasons (Lent and Advent) form a rhythm which invite me to live into the story, like breathing in and out. For me the question is not about particular dates but about this rhythm. Since Advent is a reminder not only of Jesus’s first coming but also of his second, they compose a living expression of “the mystery of faith”: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
    Do you celebrate the other Jewish festivals? I wonder if you would find meaning by worshiping with a Messianic congregation.

  13. Nathan,
    …Oh, I get it. Because of Lisa’s vow, Lent sucked for you, and has left a permanent bad taste in your mouth!
    But have you ever fasted? That’s how I see it, nothing more than some kind of fast, except that it’s not total and not necessarily food, so it expands our fasting vocabulary. Consider the carbon fast I linked above.

  14. i’ve fasted, but that’s always like…well, you’re praying so much, there’s just no time to eat! i’ve never been too into fasting while going on with life either. lent was always used as a dieting method more than a spiritual exercise. the carbon fast was interesting, but i guess i don’t see the value of momentary deprivation over life long moderation. the carbon fast seemed to be the same thing…trying to get value out of the not-doing-something itself, instead of using the not-doing as a context for spending a serious getaway with God.
    as for lisa, i wouldn’t change a thing…her lent from boys forced us to build a relationship that wasn’t based on starting a relationship.