-Rev Melissa Fain-
I'm going to throw down some terms in this post, but don't worry, I'll define everything as I go.
I'm secretly a gal who loves the Liturgical Calendar. This is basically the Christian Calendar. Most Christians follow it to a very loose degree by celebrating Christmas and Easter. I go one step further and include lesser known Christian times: Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Pentecost. You don't need to know all those words, but here's a very crude summary:
Advent- Preparing for Christmas
Epiphany- Celebrating the three Magi after Christmas
Lent- Preparation for Easter
Pentecost- Celebrating the Holy Spirit
I want to spend some time on Lent, because ironies of ironies, we are smack dab in the middle of it.
Lent isn't exactly giving something up.
Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. If you want to know what those two things are look to New Orleans. Shrove Tuesday is historically the time when you used up your yeast, because in the Christian calendar, Lent is a time to fast. This has morphed to the celebration we know today as Mardi Gras.
Ash Wednesday is when Lent officially begins. Many in the Christian tradition will go to an Ash Wednesday worship, where they will have ashes put upon their forehead in the shape of a cross. Those ashes, are supposed to be the burnt remains of the palm fronds used in the previous Palm Sunday. It is death. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
I have a very difficult time visiting non-denominational churches during the Lenten season. Lent is sacred. It must exist if we are to fully understand the scandal of an empty cross. New life will always be preceded by death.
Lent is choosing what you're not taking with you
So you gave up Facebook for Lent. How's that working out for you?
Snark aside, The superficial giving up has never really sat well with me. Sure, we can give up chocolate for 40 days, but is that really preparing us for what's coming? Lent is about preparation. Sometimes that involves giving something up. In my mind, unless you're fasting, it should be something that doesn't get picked back up after Easter. If Facebook keeps you from Jesus than why are you going back to it when Lent is over?
Lent should make us consider what shouldn't be brought before God's eyes. Our desire for the easy answers keeps us from the hard truths. Lent is a time where we kill what shouldn't be given new life. We sacrifice sin. We give up that which takes away from life.
Lent is also choosing what you're picking up
Endurance, relationship, hope... Maybe it's not Facebook that's the problem, but how we use it as a people.
I don't think many are preparing for the Easter that's coming this year. I think many congregations have chosen the band-aid approach to all this. I've read multiple posts across multiple platforms that basically read, "This Lent is too real for me." That's because many of us are only okay with superficial death. We don't want to admit that something cannot be, and because of that, nothing new can take its place.
You cannot worship on Easter the way you planned on worshiping. Now, you can either mourn what cannot be and find Christ in the digital wilderness, or you can try to hobble together to create a golden fraud in the meantime. This is going to sound backwards, but now is the best time to be mourning! This might be the Lent-iest Lent ever, that might roll into the most un-Easter-like Easter, but maybe we can prepare for that. Maybe this Easter can be a time where we can pause and reflect. Maybe as we mourn what cannot be on Easter day, there will be some early risers who will find the tomb of their beloved worship is empty. Something new has taken it's place. BUT- we must lay to rest what cannot be.