Monday, March 18, 2013

Living Out Lent

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Last week someone asked me what plans I had for Easter.

The blank look on my face should have signaled that I had no idea when Easter even was and therefore "plans" didn't exist. 

As she pressed on talking about how many weeks into Lent it was already, there was a pause as she waited for me to reply. 

Really I was trying to be engaged in the conversation, but I must be the biggest hypocrite I know.

After all. What is Lent? 

Simply put, it is the season of preparing for Easter.

Isn't Easter the celebration of Jesus walking right out of the tomb after being hung on a cross?

And don't I love Jesus?

There was a time that I used to smear ashes on my forehead and give up ice cream for 40 days. 

Yes. Long ago I learned that Lent is 40 days without counting Sundays. 

It was a time of not eating meat on Fridays and me making empty promises to give a little bit of nothing on the other days.

That is all Lent EVER was to me.

 My empty, lame, promises. 

Goodness knows that my mom knew how to get ready for Easter.

Every year she would spring clean the whole house.

Even the old musty basement was deep cleaned, though I don't know why. 

It wasn't a place any of us would ever go.

She would even manage to clean the four of us up, by purchasing each one a new outfit. Sometimes my sister and I wore floppy bonnets to go with dresses and even little white gloves.

My brothers were taken to the local barber who would take a razor to their heads and then crisp white shirts were snapped  tight to their neck with little clip-on bow-ties. 

Mom planned a huge meal and fixed large Easter baskets that were hidden behind chairs on Easter morning. She bought candy to hide for an egg hunt. The wild egg hunt that would involve as many of  the 36 cousins that could make it to the farm with their parents. 

The food overflowed from the main table to the counters and extra tables that were set up. The long dessert table was the main attraction. And of all those delights, my Grandma's nearly famous white rabbit cake topped with seven minute frosting, sprinkled with coconut, then decorated with jelly beans. I don't know that we loved the taste of the cake as much as the fact that she brought it.

Mostly we would all be together. 

Soon it will have been two years since mom passed away and two years that our family structure including holidays has changed dramatically. I've spent the last month and a half sitting in doctors offices with my dad. And now several rounds in the hospital. This last week I've been riding the hospital elevators and sitting in hospital rooms, watching people with blank lifeless stares.

People who are hurting, without hope and who desperately need healing.

People who would like things to be different than they are.

People who might like to see me live like Lent means something real.

It's time for me to make some changes.

How can I spend weeks and weeks decorating for Christmas. Planning, buying things and going. Going. Going! All to celebrate the Christ child being born. Then neglect the other half of the story of how Jesus willingly walked to the cross?    

The Easter story. 

The story of His amazing grace.

The pain.

The unfair death.

The triumph.

The joy.

The beauty of His transforming love.

This season is about that story and that love.

It is the reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

The English word 'lent' means spring or lengthening of days. It has become known as forty days of fasting in preparation for Easter celebration.

People who acknowledge a season of Lent, have the right idea! They desire to remember and prepare for the Reason of this season. My mom had the right idea. Spring cleaning and preparing for the celebration with family and friends!

But what if Lent is more than both of those things. What if it's more like spring cleaning the closet of my mind and not just my house. Instead of giving up some small thing for a few days I live sacrificial giving and sanctified thanks-kind-of-living.  

Perhaps these few weeks left before Easter you would join me to reflect on the price of His free gift and to prepare for the celebration?

A celebration that is a way of life and a heart journey.

And this is why.

Jesus left behind an empty tomb because He doesn't make empty promises. 

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Just for fun?

Lamb Cookie Tutorial 

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© Rhonda Quaney