Yesterday (or actually, today as I write this) was Ash Wednesday. I didn't realize it because my Church doesn't really celebrate Ash Wednesday or Lent. But I have a very good friend that's a Catholic and one of our other friends mentioned that she, Andrea, was going to Church to have ashes placed on her. I was absolutely not sure what that meant and so I went home and looked it up on trusty old Google.
Here's what I found:
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers.
Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. They are mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.
The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
~Courtesy of About.com
Of course the discussion of our Catholic friend's traditions led to another friend discussing what people at her Church were doing for Lent...one man was giving up coke-cola, but was also adding in three periods of prayer during the day to focus on his relationship with Christ.
My relationship with Christ is certainly not where it needs to be, but He has been leading me lately in our relationship and posing some very difficult questions in my heart. He has also been leading to homeschool Reagan, which is going to require His direction and His leadership, and much of my own following.
After much discussion and thought and a little bit of research, I finally decided I should probably focus on my own relationship with Christ during this season before Easter. I've attempted giving up something for Lent before..just because it seemed "the" thing to do and I can always work on moderation, but this time I really want to focus, not so much on what I'm giving up, but how giving up something can draw me closer to Christ.
And so, I've decided to give up two things I have little control over: Coffee creamer and sweets. And when I feel the need to eat sweets or use coffee creamer, I'm going to sit down and focus that energy and that craving and that need on talking with my Savior.
I'll keep you posted.