Today is Ash Wednesday, the first of 40 days leading to Easter. I was reading an interesting Lutheran/nonLutheran Christian conversation on Twitter last night about "when did non Catholics begin observing Lent. And, giving up things.
"When I was a kid, it seemed like only Catholics observed Lent. Now a lot of Protestants do. When did that start?"
As a Lutheran, we've always observed Lent with extra services on Wednesday. What wasn't common practice until recent years is the receiving of ashes as Catholics always had. Now Lutherans do this.
What makes me sort of uncomfortable is the giving up of things for Lent, a personal sacrifice. It has struck me that so many things are nothing in comparison to the sacrifice of Christ for us on Good Friday and these 'giving ups' always seem to put the focus on us and how hard this sacrifice is. I can whine over the loss of my evening chocolate ice cream with the best of them.
Here's a list of the most common things people give up for Lent. I've found a couple of lists but they're pretty much the same.
Soda, coffee, swearing, beer, chocolate, wine, smoking, French fries, meat, ice cream, TV and Facebook.
I don't want to come off as self righteous here, there is not a thing inherently wrong about doing these things as long as we keep our eyes on what Lent leads to-Calvary and Easter-death to life. By Him for us that we too may have eternal life.