I grew up in a very non-liturgical church culture. It was like we were so anti-tradition, that if we did something two years in a row, we got a little freaked out. Because if it wasn’t spontaneous, it wasn’t spiritual, you know?
But if that were true, we’d only read the Bible through once and then be done. So obviously, a good thing can be done more than once and still be good.
So, Lent. (If you’re all, “What is this Lent of which you speak, go read Wikipedia. They know everything.)
I think Lent could be awesome. Or it could be a waste of time. Based on your heart.
Participating in a spiritual ritual to earn God’s favor, lose some weight, fit in to the community or please your mom has about the same value as a New Years Resolution.
On the other hand, engaging in an activity that has a rich spiritual heritage and is founded in the truth of the Word can be life giving, if your heart is focused on Jesus.
What concerns me about Lent (or a 21 day fast or whatever tradition), is when we do it because we think the act itself somehow fixes us. Like it will keep us on God’s good side or whatever. That’s wrong and messed up.
It would be like if my husband and I celebrated Valentines Day to stay married. Imagine if we said, “Yeah, things have been rough lately. We haven’t actually talked in weeks and we’d rather watch TV than kiss. But when Valentines roles around, that will patch everything up.” Anyone would tell us that was crazy and we needed help.
For a marriage, Valentines can be a great reminder of our love. The holiday can give us an extra excuse to stop and enjoy each other. It can even help our hearts re-focus on our relationship. But it can’t create something that’s not there.
In the same way, liturgy can re-center our hearts on Jesus and remind us of His goodness. When it’s a tradition that comes around at the same time each year, we can look forward to a time set aside for the Lord. It’s even beneficial to engage in a spiritual discipline with other believers and grow our sense of community with the family of faith.
But if your heart isn’t focused on Jesus? Eh. You might as well just go eat that chocolate.