Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday so we are now deep into the season of Lent. As best as I understand it, Lent is the 40 days preceeding Good Friday that commemorates the 40 days Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness. Those who "do" Lent give up something during the 40 days. Thus "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras where you get completely wasted since you have to be uber-holy for the next month plus. I think that's how it works at least.
As you can probably tell, I didn't grow up in a Christian tradition that celebrated Lent. I didn't even know what it was until I was an adult. Christmas and Easter were about Jesus (not Santa and bunnies) but there weren't other holy days.
So here I am, all grown up and living a little out of the "normal" Christian box. We have a housechurch, I am part of a Christian women's group that does emotional work (kind of therapy), I have a very hippy side. Yet...there is a part of me that longs for what traditions like Lent bring.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of traditional "church" things that I'm happy to flush. If I never have to do another handshaking session during welcome time, I will be just fine. But to me, the power of Lent, Advent, even Passover is in the retelling of the story, the pointing to Christ, the framing the bigger picture beyond just a day on the calendar.
The idea of Lent to me is remembering that going to the cross cost Jesus something. He wrestled with his role and he prepared for it in the wilderness. Just because he is God doesn't mean it was easy. He knew, looking forward, what was to come. He was tempted to use his divine power in a way outside of the Father's plan. Choosing the cross was not a cheap decision. When I forget about the suffering in the wilderness, the torment of the cross, I really minimize the importance of the resurrection.
To relate that to me, what does my faith cost me? In my whitebread-USA Christian life, what does Christ choosing to die really mean to me? And that's where I come back to commemorating Lent. I'm pondering giving something up. Whatever it is, I want it to be something that when I miss it I remember the pain of Jesus fasting for 40 days and nights. I want to walk that path of sorrow to remember that my sin cost him something and yet he volunteered his life willingly for me. I want to feel the pain so that the joy of my redemption is sweeter.
Maybe I'm a little more traditional than I let on. :)