Life and Death and Ash Wednesday

For the last couple of years, we’ve resolved to make more of Easter by observing Lent , which is sort of like the Advent of springtime.  But all we’ve really done is choose something painful to give up for the forty days before Easter.  This year, I wanted to try to find some more visual symbols to include in our celebration.

Abby is old enough to notice things like decorations and ritual, and those are ways for her to begin to understand the seasons we celebrate in our home.  I know she’s too little to understand the complete significance of what she sees and repeats.  But I want these family traditions to be a part of her earliest memories, not some new agenda we spring on her after she’s already formed habits and expectations.  Besides, the truth is reinforced to my heart every time I attempt to instruct hers, and I’m teaching her things that I’m still struggling to understand.

So this year we’re borrowing a tradition that I observed at the school where I used to work.  Every person is given a seed to plant and to watch over the course of the Lenten season.  Under the soil, the seed will break apart and die, and slowly the shoots of a new plant will emerge for us to see.

The seed represents a bad habit or negative pattern of thinking.  It must die to be replaced by a habit that is good and right.  As we watch the new plants emerging from the dirt in our flower pots, we’ll be challenged to examine ourselves to find evidence of growth in our character.

This adds some meaning to the fasting element of Lent.  It’s not just giving up something to manufacture pain so that I can sympathize with Christ in his suffering, which is how I always understood the purpose of fasting. (At the same time recognizing the shallowness of comparing my craving for Dr. Pepper to his suffering on the cross!)

Rather, I consider what habit needs to be uprooted.  This year, I’m noticing that I’m too dependent on the praise and feedback of others.  I actually programmed my tweets to post to Facebook just so that I could still get “likes” and comments!

So, for the second year in a row, I’m giving up Facebook.  But this year I’m thinking of it less in terms of time-management and more in terms of character development.  In the place of my applause-seeking, I hope that I will grow in the security of finding my identity and value in Christ.

What about you?  How do you prepare for Easter?  Is anyone fasting for Lent this year?  Feel free to leave a comment…or not!

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9 responses to “Life and Death and Ash Wednesday

  1. Thanks for sharing. That is a really cool idea! I did not grow up in a Christian home so it has been challenging to come up with ideas to celebrate these seasons that have become precious to me. I desire to build those same traditions and find it helpful when others share what they are doing. So again, thanks for sharing. This year I am going to give up the t.v. during Amelia’s nap time. I find myself being consumed with it and not spending time in God’s Word. Honestly, I am too tired to wake up early and Amelia is always changing the time she wakes up so the best time to spend time with my best friend would be around nap time but I have exchanged time for him for lazy time on the couch. So, I am giving up the t.v. in that precious quiet time in hopes of seeing more of Him!

    • It’s not TV for me, but I definitely waste tons of time while Abby is napping. I’ve found my most consistent quiet time window is right after putting Abby to bed…everything else in the day is too unpredictable!

  2. Like you, having grown up at TBC, we didn’t really observe Lent. As a child I actually thought it was only for the Catholic church. Now as an adult, I am realizing more and more how much I love the rituals of church and the sanctity that is taught through them. I am giving up FB as a means of using my time to pour into my family and serve others. I could be praying for others, making meals for a new mom in need, or even keep up with a cleaner house. I LOVE your tradition of planting seeds. I’m going to mention to Jeremy and maybe borrow it!

    • I think we’re in a very similar place now! And go ahead and borrow the idea…it wasn’t mine to begin with, either! I’d be curious to hear how it goes over with your older kids.

  3. May we still have our Easter egg hunts????

  4. I gave up drinking Cokes, and I found myself really wanting one ALL day yesterday. I drank sweet tea instead! I agree! It is sad to think of comparing my lack of drinking carbonated sweet drinks to Jesus’ suffering. Cliff and I have also decided to set 2 prayer times each day in addition to our constant communication, just to really be disciplined in our communication with God. And on the praise comment, that is probably your ‘Love Language’ and in moderation, and from people you really care about, it is important. But I can relate. Being off facebook since Dec 2010 has really changed my life!

    • I’ve given up Dr Pepper before, and it was so hard! I’m interested to hear how your prayer habit goes….I’m trying something similar myself. Let’s compare notes after Easter!

  5. I love the candle idea! Kevin heard Piper talking about that the other day, but I was having a hard time visualizing it- so thanks for the picture:). Growing up Catholic and attending a Catholic school,I remember having a row of seeds in plastic cups on the ledge of our classroom window. I think we may borrow that too. As for giving something up, I don’t think the idea is to compare our suffering with Christ’s. I think it is more about removing a distraction and asking God to speak into our hearts as we focus on Him rather than the habit, food, etc. I’m glad that more evangelicals are observing the Liturgical calendar. I have always found such comfort and beauty in the rituals.

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