I have a complicated relationship with Lent. I know I'm a Lutheran and I'm ordained, so I should love it, but I really don't. I have spent too much of my life bemoaning my sin and not enough acknowledging the grace of God. I suppose a lot of people are the opposite, and hence the need for Lent. But I recoil against the idea that we need to "prepare ourselves" to receive the good news of Easter. As a Christian, who believes in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I am able to receive the joy and riches of Easter every day of my life. I don't need to self-flagellate to somehow "earn" it.
Where I do appreciate Lent is in its steady realism about our sinful nature and the reality of death. Anytime somebody tells the truth about life as it really is, I'm happy about it.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who give up chocolate or coffee for Lent for no real purpose. If somehow doing those things helps you get closer to God or grow in your faith, I'm behind you one hundred percent. If it helps you grow in areas in your life where you need to grow, I'm behind you too. But much of the sacrifices undertaken during Lent seem to exist for their own sake, with no real purpose behind them.
Into this depressing melee steps my friend, Becky. Becky is Lutheran too, she works in New York City, doing all kinds of theater, costume design, and other cool artsy things. She has come up with a Lenten challenge for herself that for once has a real point.
She's recently come to realize that she eats way, way too much take-out. By her account, 2 out of 3 meals a day is found in a take-out container. She's come to realize she is eating away so much money that could be better spent. And that she could have a lot better health were it not for all that take-out. So, she's giving up take-out for Lent. Despite her 15 hour days, she's gonna try to cook. Or at least eat cheese and crackers. In the midst of all that temptation. And she's blogging about it. So head over to 40 days of creative eating and encourage Becky. It's gonna be awesome to witness a Lenten discipline with a real point take shape.