It’s difficult to miss two things when reading through the Old Testament: blood sacrifices and holydays. Thankfully, Christ willingly allowed himself to be the Ultimate Blood Sacrifice on our behalves. However, the countless festivals, holydays, special offering days, and days of rest have all but been ignored completely.
Lent serves as a remnant of those times. It may not have been practiced by ancient tribes and cultures for thousands of years, but it is a special time set aside for Christians to worship in a slightly different way. Growing up Baptist, lent was the stuff in the dryer, not a religious observance. After reading through Leviticus and Numbers it’s hard to ignore the importance of setting aside a special time to focus on our relationship with Abba.
I didn’t realize it was Fat Tuesday until I checked my box this morning and found the cheap beads that represent our culture’s skewed version of Lent: Party all night, then sober up Wednesday morning to begin a forty day “fast” that ends up looking a lot like a diet. Giving up Coke or chocolate for forty days doesn’t do much to put things in perspective. Ash Wednesday is where it’s at! Those who observe Lent are given a visual reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s gift of grace. Much like we put our name on things that are important to us (lunch in the community fridge, favorite toys, books…), I like to think of it as God’s way of saying: “Mine!”