Before our staff meeting today, I ran out to grab a sub for lunch. A Methodist church less than a mile up the road from us was advertising their offering of drive-though ashes from 7-11am. I did a double take, had a good chuckle, but the more I thought about it, I started thinking on those several blue/white signs lining the front lawn.
What is the point of the concept behind a drive-through?
Well duh, I think we all know it. Drive-through's are all bout ease and convenience. They are supposed to make life easier and allow you to get what you want in the quickest way possible. Some companies even pride themselves on being able to get customers through in a certain amount of time, illustrating the great emphasis our culture places on speed, accuracy, and busyness.
The more I thought of those church signs selling an easier, more convenient way to begin a season of fasting and repentance, it kinda made me sad. Our culture is so fast paced and busy, now we're at a point where in order to get more people to come to church on Ash Wednesday we advertise drive-through ashes. And yes, I acknowledge I could be overly thinking this through. It is very possible this congregation has the bestest of intentions at heart. Not that I am wanting to go all Pharisee-like on another church, but I think it takes away something sacred from the meaning of Lent.
Growing up, I have had a love-hate relationship with Lent. I love the somber, yet beautiful parts of the liturgy that challenge me to reflect on the lasting, eternal things vs that which will pass away. The simplicity, the bareness of what it all represents. What is difficult is the breaking of my own will, sacrificing my wants/desires, and acknowledging my own sin and brokenness in life.
I used to see Lent as an opportunity to make up for all the ways I spiritually failed over the past year. I know, lame and sad. Lent used to represent a time to become a spiritual ninja; for 40 days I overachieved and set the bar really, really high. And usually, somewhere in the first 14 days of Lent would fail miserably, then beat myself, and try to meet impossible standards yet again.
As I get older, I like to think though every year when Lent comes around I am getting a little wiser and more humble. This year though I am not setting out to become a spiritual ninja. I am not so much focused on the all the "doing stuff" of Lent but instead I am just focusing on being.
Honestly for Lent my plan is simple: to keep Jesus company in the Garden of Gethsemane. I want to be the friend who didn't run out and abandon Him. I just want to sit close and be there. And in keeping Jesus company, He is keeping me company in ways I need it most right now. It's an image that is guiding how I am praying, fasting, and loving other people these next 40 days.
P.S.I'm sorry but any Polish Americans can you please explain the love to me on these glorified donuts? Don't throw rocks at me, but I really cannot get into the scared eating of paczki on Fat Tuesday. Personally I'll be eating enjoying cookies today with a side of Sander's Hot Fudge sauce.
I hope you are properly indulging today as well ;)
Whether you get drive-through ashes or love paczki, I pray your Lent is sacred, holy, and blessed.