Lent...what's with the rituals?
Luke 22:19 "Do this in remembrance of me..."
"Lent isn't a ritual. It is time given to think seriously about who Jesus is for us, to renew our faith from the inside out."*
Lent was the earliest feast commonly celebrated by the universal church. It was more or less in place by 330, observed as a season lasting 40 days (Sundays don't count!). This celebration reminded the church that they bridged the already (what Jesus's death had accomplished) and the not yet (the long awaited return of their Savior) in that they were themselves Jesus' body existing in our world, until his return. As the years, decades, and centuries rolled on, the Christian community on earth practiced the resurrection and reaffirmed their identity in Christ as they observed Lent.
Every year, the Lenten season calls us to this same practice. We practice the resurrection in our own lives by setting aside routine and focusing on the spiritual as it manifests in our daily living. We practice as we search for ways to heal our souls, by abstaining from things that we do not need or doing things that give life meaning. We practice in our reflections on Jesus and what he means for us today. We practice if we choose to fast from things we like in order to develop a sense of hunger and thirst for the kingdom of God. We practice, because resurrection isn't just a miraculous historical event that took place in the past. It's the renewed life we live today, as Christians in the world.
Reflect: is there a practice you are drawn to that you feel would help to focus you on Jesus, on his life and resurrection, and on the new life he has called you into? What is preventing you from trying out that practice? If you are practicing it, what have you noticed? What is something God has brought to your attention through this practice?
* From: The Liturgical Year: the Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister