Some times, I think we make too light of the Lenten Season, especially when it comes to talking about what we give up. A handful of us treat the next 40 days as a quick diet plan — or a time to try out a new diet plan. No carbs. No caffeine. No sugar. No chocolate. Which is great. I don’t mean to belittle such things — I really don’t. It’s great if there’s a rhyme/reason/plan for giving those things up. Like, when you have that caffeine headache that is inevitably going to come — you take time to reflect on our dependence on God’s grace.
I guess the crux of it lies on how we explain (particularly to youth) the Lenten season. I was at fault with this. I never explained the particular reason on why we should give things up, but instead asked the kids to pledge to give things up for the Lenten period. I once had kids write their names on the youth wall with what they were going to give up to hold us accountable for the season. I knew I totally missed the point when I saw on the wall, “For Lent I am giving up…”
… going out of the way of being nice to my siblings
… doing homework — what’s the point?
… sweets and chocolate — need to lose weight before prom.
I wish I could have a few do-overs in my ministry as a youth pastor… particularly a Friday night where I sent everyone home early. It’s still talked about to this day (though it was 9 years ago…).
I found this explanation of Lenten Season a couple of years ago (source unknown), and if I had a youth ministry, would try to explain Lent this way:
One of the ways in which we can understand Lent is to see it as “Spring Cleaning.” Just as we will clean our houses in preparation for a visit from a special guest, so we take time to examine our lives in preparation for our encounter with the risen Christ at Easter.
And so, we clean out (or give up) the things that hinder our relationship with God and with others.
I like that explanation, and I’m going to stick with it. Makes it simple without really simplifying.
May this Lenten season bring you ever so closer to God.
I also found this graphic from Ginghamsburg Church that I really liked: Fast From/Feast On: