Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent. This penitential season just so happens to be my favorite time of the church year. In my opinion, there is no other season with such strong hymnody, and the meditative tone that is taken is also to my liking. Oh yeah, and the cross cannot be mistaken as the center of each service--what could be better?
It just so happens that this year Ash Wednesday falls on my 30th birthday. Jamie managed to pull of the 5th successful surprise party that she has thrown me since we started dating. Jamie, thanks for making this day special for me! To everyone that was able to attend or has written notes on Facebook or has sent cards or made phone calls--THANKS! But don't worry, I'm still going to be playing basketball and softball--REGULARLY!
Many people choose to give something up for the season of Lent. This is a salutary practice for a number of reasons. Here are just two: 1) Our minor sacrifices remind us of the MAJOR sacrifice of our suffering Servant, not only in his death, but also in his life, and 2) it helps us keep our fleshy desires in check. Of course, many people choose to give up something like sweets, or fast food. Check out this wise pastor's thoughts on "a Lutheran Way to Fast:" http://weedon.blogspot.com/2009/02/rerun-from-last-holy-week-is-there.html.html. He says it better than I could. Since my family is in the middle of a "Biggest Loser" competition, I think my fast will include no food after 8:30 p.m.
One last thing...if you are considering the option of giving up a tooth for Lent, I would advise you to reconsider. This morning I woke up with a serious tooth ache, the sort of pain that felt like an abscessed tooth. The good news is that I won't have to have a root cannal. The bad news is that I have a gum infection caused by "significant bone loss" in one of my upper-right-side molers. I'm looking at an extraction next Monday. So, take it from me, there are far better options than giving up a tooth for Lent, and besides, none of the Gospels ever talk about Jesus suffering in that way!
Have a blesssed Lenten season as we remember Jesus' journey to the cross!