Being known as Christians by our love for God and each other, every day

TIME OUT WITH LOIS

It was mind-boggling to read this week about the observance of Lent by people who describe themselves as non-believers.

First of all, their reason for observing Lent, the article said, was because they like the idea of dedicating a specific length of time to selfdenial or “a kind of a wellness ‘cleanse’ or a second chance at kick starting those neglected New Year’s resolutions.” (Tara Isabella Burton, Vox)

Before I prayed about its observance in my own life, it would not have occurred to me to “do it just to do it.” My interest started with a question many years ago.

“Why does your church not believe in Lent?” my friend asked me.

“That is a really good question . . . which means I don’t know exactly,” I answered. I took a sip of coffee as I thought it over. “In the first place, I don’t think we do not believe in Lent. I think maybe we just don’t celebrate it in the same way your church does. Because Lent is Lent isn’t it? It happens whether we do something or not, right?”

When I got home I looked it up. In my dictionary, Lent is “in the Christian religion, an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.”

Back at our lunch I had said, “You know I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Lent until I went to town to high school. Then I heard about it. Kids would give up candy bars or movies for Lent. It seemed to me it was more about the candy bars than anything religious. Of course, that was my poor judgment because I wasn’t the one giving anything up.”

My friend said, “I remember that too.”

“Maybe that is why some churches don’t celebrate it. Maybe in decades past some people thought it to be more ritual than belief. So they ‘threw the baby out with the bathwater’ so to speak.”

With another sip of coffee, I smiled and said, “Here is what I think. I don’t think it is about the candy bars anymore in the celebrations of Lent I see. It is about renewing faith, observing some time between the celebrations of the birth of Jesus and His crucifixion with humbleness and a sacrifice of time in study and meditating that is very spiritual. I’m sure we both agree that it is up to the individual whether it is real or not. I have experienced real acts of faith personally from people observing Lent.”

She knew what I was thinking about. When I had cancer and was going through chemo, I got a card from Jan, her daughter. She wrote, “This year our pastor encouraged us to do something for someone instead of giving up something for Lent. I want you to be my Lenten act of love this year.” For those 40 days Jan sent me cards and encouraging gifts and letters.

The first one pictured a string of pastel colored elephants in a long line tied tails to trunks. The verse read, “I am with you for the long haul!” I still have that card. She did not stop with Easter either.

That is what I love about the Lenten observers I see around me. Some read their Bible every day or do a daily act of kindness. The season moves many to make life changes in new steps of faith in God that are not just for a season of time.

And that is what counts, being known as Christians by our love for God and each other, every day, including Lent. I am glad my friend asked me the question. Sometimes we don’t examine what we believe until someone asks us and makes us think. How about you?

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Olmstead is an inspirational speaker and author who lives in the

Shields Valley. Email her at loistimeout@gmail. com or visit www.timeoutwithlois.com.

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