I grew up in a church tradition that had its origins in the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century. Among other aspects of Anabaptist belief was an avoidance of the high liturgical elements that has characterized both Catholicism and mainline Protestantism over the centuries.
One of the results of that upbringing was that I had little exposure to the concept of Lent. My childhood experience of Easter was that we raced toward it, beginning with Good Friday, and then -- BAM -- there was Easter.
I have been a member of a Presbyterian church since 1970, and, with that change of denominational affiliation, I first began to learn about Lent. When our church had its latest pastor come as our minister, now 15 years ago, he introduced an even more pronounced emphasis on Ash Wednesday. This is the day that marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. Anyone who is Catholic has had long exposure to Ash Wednesday, and probably wonders why a Protestant would be such a late-comer to the holy day. Other people probably ONLY know about Ash Wednesday because is preceded by Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, or--if you are Pennsylvania Dutch--Fasnacht Day.
On that first Ash Wednesday that our "new" pastor was at our church, he asked us to fast on Ash Wednesday, all day, and then attend church in the evening. At that service, he used imposition of ashes (for the first time at our church). As he drew the sign of the cross on our foreheads, he pronounced our first names and said "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." I find this service profoundly moving, as noted here.
But, the whole point of this blog is to write about GIVING UP. Lent is seen as a time for serious deep contemplation on the nature of the events that lead to Easter. And, in many traditions, it is also a time when we are urged to give up something--a kind of mini-sacrifice on our parts. I have never been one to follow that practice. Mostly people give up things like sweets, pastry, or other food items. The point is, of course, to give up something you like. However, this year--I might have to give up something...the time I spend blogging.
Oh, I am not giving up blogging. And, truth be told, I will only be tapering off. And, further truth be told, this is not so much about Lent as it is about a very busy life. I will be working on several critical family projects over the next month. So, maybe YOU will have to give up reading my blog ... for Lent, or for lack of anything new to read.