Ash Wednesday will forever have a double meaning for me.
First, when my son gets older I plan to make the day an extra special one for him. His name is Athanasius and we call him “Ash” for short.
Kids love their names. I had a tape as a child that inserted my name into different melodies. Whoever thought about that idea is making bank now. The melodies were not masterpieces, but the lyrics won my five-year-old heart over. “Lets sing a song about Jessica/Let’s sing a song about Jessica/Let’s sing a song about Jessica/ ‘Cause she’s a special girl.”
And the narcissism took root!
As an aside: The saddest part about this story is that my other siblings had to listen to the same tape! My parents couldn’t find other tapes with the names Kyle and Lindsay inserted, so they listened to Jessica’s special tape. I feel horrible about this now. I should probably pay for some counseling for them. That’s the beauty and difficulty of being the first-born, you’re an only child for a while, but you also have to pave the way for the others. Case in point: my mom seriously considered the morality of glitter nail polish before I was allowed to use it. (: I love you mom!
Anyway, Ash Wednesday—I am totally taking advantage of the fact that there is a day each year that shares his namesake. Since chocolate shakes and Chick-fil-a are supposedly unhealthy for newborns, today I just cuddled him more than normal.
Second, Ash Wednesday represents the beginning of a beautiful season that I previously misunderstood. In high school, I remember friends of other denominations talking about “giving up things for Lent.” I liked food, soda, and Seinfeld, so I quickly determined that I didn’t need to prove anything to Jesus, and I kept eating my honey buns and drinking Dr. Pepper with Baptist glee.
Since then, I have seen people “give things up for Lent” much like they would give up chicken wings or Bo-berry biscuits if they were on Weight Watchers. The season of “Lent” is not just giving up things for its own sake or even to prove that we can.
What is Lent all about anyway?
For those who of you who grew up in Protestant denominations that didn’t practice Lent, here’s a twenty second crash course. Lent is a season of fasting that begins 40 days before Easter. Typically Christians who practice Lent choose to give up something dear to them for this period. You don’t give something up to make yourself more holy. It doesn’t work like that in God’s economy. Rather, the point is to remind yourself that you can live without whatever it is you give up, but you can’t live without God. As you experience some kind of “withdrawal” from whatever it is you choose to fast from, you are encouraged to refocus on the gospel and remember the surpassing glory of Christ. (this succinct explanation is courtesy of my husband)
Doug are excited to celebrate Lent by reading N. T. Wright’s “Lent For Everyone.”
Not only is N. T. Wright one of the leading New Testament scholars in the world, he also is a witty and wonderful writer. Doug and I worked through through “Lent For Everyone” last year together and it was fantastically refreshing and challenging. Fortunately, there are 3 different versions following the gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is a quick devotional with an accompanying scripture that takes 5 minutes to read.
Here is a link to the book on Amazon that we’re working through. We’re on Year “C,” the gospel of Luke.
You can get a free copy of N.T. Wright’s “Lent for Everyone” on your iPhone (if you have one) by downloading YouVersion Bible App. The free one is Year “A,” the gospel of Matthew.