If you were busy exchanging smooches, sappy cards and chocolate kisses with your sweetheart this week, you may have missed the official beginning of this year’s Lenten season. Yes, Ash Wednesday fell right on Valentine’s Day and apparently came as a surprise to many of us. I was unaware until I spied a lady at my son’s school party craft station with black “marker” on her forehead. I wanted to warn her that she had a little something on her face. . . but luckily at the last minute I realized she was proudly wearing ashes and I kept my mouth shut. Whew!
Lent is the forty days between Ash Wednesday (Feb 14, 2018) and Easter Sunday (Apr 1, 2018) and is a time of prayerful preparation leading up to the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Many people fast, give up luxuries and step up their prayer life during Lent as a way to respectfully mimic the sacrifice of Jesus and His journey in the desert before His crucifixion.
Being a Southern Baptist my whole life, Lent was something I was aware of but not something we celebrated much in the way of sacrifice (unlike my Catholic bred husband). We simply put all our emphasis on the single, super-special day of Easter. Oddly enough, in recent years the Baptist churches in which I have attended have been stepping up their game as far as religious days go. I have seen a much larger emphasis put on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and even Advent leading up to Christmas. I personally like this new awareness, because all these days were part of the master plan (or The Master’s plan) and it makes sense to be more aware of the whole picture.
On the less spiritual side of Lent is a fun little program called “40 Bags in 40 Days” hosted by Ann Marie at White House, Black Shutters. The whole idea is to purge our homes of the clutter that is weighing down our lives by discarding forty bags, boxes or items during the forty days of Lent. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real soul-lifting aspects of this program also and it can have a profound impact on your family dynamics, personal wellbeing and spiritual walk with Christ. Now, If you simply take part in this fun challenge for the pure desire of having a cleaner house, I say go for it girl! I have participated for a few years now; and although I’ve never met my 40-bag goal, I still feel less burdened without the stuff I purge from my life and I know my husband (who is definitely not of the hoarder sort) appreciates the cleaner closets and blank spaces.
I also like to consider Luke 10:38 from the [Holman] Bible, “While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.” You mean, Jesus just happened to stop by her house one day and she actually welcomed him in? That’s pretty amazing because I don’t even welcome my dearest friends (much less the Messiah) on some days; because let me tell ya, we have stuff and it can be absolutely everywhere! I know our homes don’t have to be perfect, but wouldn’t it be nice if people just popped over like they used to without our ducking behind the front door and hoping they didn’t see the shutters move?
So whether you’re unburdening your soul or your shelves this Lenten season, I hope you will do so with intention and, if your house is as full as mine, a hefty helping of prayer. God doesn’t mind if we ask for a little help, even with the most mundane of life’s challenges. . . and for some of us, we need all the help we can get.