Ash Wednesday…

Lent 2022 starts today, Ash Wednesday. Lent (literally springtime) was popularized in the fourth century and had a different and more practical purpose than we might think seventeen centuries later. If we were to poll people this week as to the purpose of Lent, we would likely hear something about what we should give up during the 6+ weeks leading up to Easter. We might likely have a similar view. If so, we find ourselves entering into this springtime with a negative perspective. I live in Minnesota. With another snow event predicted for this weekend, I am not hearing many people dread the coming of spring. Who would want to approach spring sullenly? What about Lent?

The editors of Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter suggest that “Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement.” After all, the main purpose of fasting (the forgoing of a pleasure) is to provide more opportunities to discover and enjoy God. There is an old liturgy that refers to the Lent and Easter season as “this joyful season.” How might we approach Lent this year (and every year) in a manner that brings joy? I will toss out a few suggestions, trusting readers to weigh in with other suggestions…

  • Read one of the Gospels. Read all of the Gospels! This is always my go-to. You can plan your reading so that you finish at Easter, providing you with the backstory leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • Read Walter Wangerin’s classic Reliving the Passion (based on the Gospel of Mark). It has been transformative for me over the years. (It’s available for Kindle… or Amazon can get it to you in a couple days.)
  • Read Bread and Wine.
  • Find a weekly Lenten service with the express purpose of discovering and enjoying God in new ways.
  • Since we are talking about the hope of springtime, N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope would be a good read (though it might take you past Easter to finish).

Whatever you choose to do during this season, God will meet you, further revealing himself to you (I speak from experience!). Blessings!

Published by

Curt Hinkle

I am a practical theologian. A theology that doesn't play out in one's everyday life is impractical, or of no real use. A simple definition of theology is the attempt to understand God and what he is up to, allowing us to join him in his work.

2 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday…”

  1. Our church doesn’t “do” lent but I like the intend of the tradition. Most often folks are asked to give up things during lent – not a bad idea in our busy age. Somehow I find it more appealing to do something different during the 40 day prior to Easter. I’ll take Curt up on his suggestion to add options!
    1) Write 40 letters, or make 40 phone calls, or visit 40 people who could use the visit, card, or call.
    2) Rather than read the Gospel of Mark, take the time to prepare a video (Youtube). I find that I learn far more when I take on the role of the teacher. (The best way to learn something is to teach it!)
    3) Do a short term small group such as Friday Fish Fry For Friend.
    4) 40 days without social media; or better yet substitute 40 hours of social media for 40 hours of services from other churches.
    5) Participate in the March Food Drive for CAER (or any other similar event). Perhaps do something to benefit the people of Ukraine.


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