Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Lent

“No cattle past this point” was the sign at the San Antonio Rodeo and Stock Show.

This sign reminds me of the start of Lent, as many Christians use Ash Wednesday as a time to start giving up something, like meat, to remember Christ’s sacrifices. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” functioned as a time to celebrate and party before beginning the more penitential season of Lent. As a grace-oriented Lutheran Christian, I know I don’t have to give anything up for Lent, but can use Lent as a time for being more intentional about my Christian identity.

The season of Lent started as a time of preparation for Baptism. From the earliest centuries of Christianity, people were welcomed into the Church through baptism. Usually baptisms were only performed at one time in the church year—Easter. At the service of the Easter Vigil, followers of Jesus gathered around a fire all night and into the morning, remembering and retelling stories from the Bible of God’s saving deeds. Persons new to Christianity—called catechumens—were baptized at the Easter Vigil and welcomed into the faith. In preparation for Baptism, the catechumens would have a period of preparation, usually involving prayer, fasting, and acts of charity. Other Christians in solidarity with those new to the faith, would join in these preparatory activities. This time of prayer and reflection evolved into the season of Lent.

Lent should not become another chance to fall back into “shouting church” mentality where we strictly force you to do something. Rather, it is an invitation to be intentional. Maybe you will give something up, but maybe you’ll take something on, like prayer, scripture reading, or giving to the needy. Like a sign at the rodeo, Lent is a boundary for us. It tells us we are coming into something new and different.


  1. I have to say lent started as my least favorite church festival, but as I was studying for my sermon for our service out at the branches, I started to see it in a new light. As I performed the imposition of ashes I was reminded of the grace that God so freely gives us! What a great reminder!

  2. From Jackie...

    Seems like an interesting mindthought to go from NO CATTLE PASS THIS
    POINT to Lent......for many years now, since we began the imposition of
    ashes, all I can think of is "remember, From ashes you came to ashes you
    shall return". The first time I remember ever hearing those words was a
    number of years ago when we began the practice of applying ashes on our
    foreheads on Ash Wednesday and Pastor said those words and my bowed eyes
    shot up to look at him and what he just said while applying the ashes to
    my forehead. Very few went forward for this "new" practice and then to
    hear those words was profound for me and I have never stopped hearing
    them in my mind and reflecting on them. These words, 10 in number, shook
    me to my core and reminds me always how very short our time is on this
    journey and we live every minute in God's grace and with the help of the
    Holy Spirit, we minute by minute are becoming worthy. Jackie