The Glories of Lent – Really! by Amy Boucher Pye
Growing up in a liturgical tradition, I have always known Lent as a time of preparing for Easter. My understanding as a child might not have gone much further than knowing we didn’t eat fish on Fridays and that the adults would give something up as a means of fasting, but I had the sense that it was an important part of our church calendar. Especially when the forty days were over and the joy of Easter arrived. My sister and brother and I would wake brimming with excitement, knowing that Easter baskets would have appeared as if by magic in our bedrooms, and that we’d have new outfits to wear to church (with the girls more excited by a new Easter dress than my brother was about his dress-up clothes). When we got to church, the service would pulse with joy and life we enjoyed the uplifting music in a building packed with regulars and visitors.
With my sister and brother on an Easter morning in Minnesota.
In my twenties, Easter baskets became a thing of sweet memories but Lent turned into an even more important time for me as my faith deepened and I began to know who I was in Christ. I didn’t want to miss any of the blessings of this season, so would fast from sweets and sugary bakery items, along with a regular weekly fast from food. One year in my zeal I even fasted from Maundy Thursday to Easter morning. And I met with God, and he with me, but I failed to realize that I was enough. That is, I didn’t have to go to extremes for him to shower his blessings on me.
Photo of me and Nicholas with the caption: My first Easter in Washington, DC, with my to-be husband Nicholas while we were dating. Yes, now I agree that I look like some bubblegum.
My thirties were a time of getting to know England – my new home – and my husband. Those early years of forming a new life included accepting the loss of my old one, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this series, to me all of life felt like Lent. I felt I had lost so much in embracing this life I was called to that I needed some time for the seeds to take root before they could produce shoots of life. I learned that I didn’t necessarily have to give up chocolate for Lent, and that the Lord would still shower me with grace and his love. He was enough – and I was enough.
Now that I’m fully acclimated to life on these isles, I am back to observing some Lenten practices – I hope not because I feel I have to, but because I want to. These practices (giving something up, or taking something on) can remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice, which helps us become more grateful. A physical act such as giving up a favourite food helps me to be present in the moment – I can’t unthinkingly reach for another piece of chocolate but remember that I’m abstaining, because Jesus loves me and gave himself for me.
My journey of many Lenten seasons has shown me that there’s a whole lot of grace for each of us – whether we have a regular routine we practice each year or not. I pray that this Lent you’ll feel the loving embrace of the Lord who made you, the merciful gaze of your Saviour on the cross as he died and as he then rose again, and the enfolding peace of the Spirit who dwells in the hearts of those who love God.
After all, in the end, Lent is all about love.
Amy Boucher Pye is the author of Finding Myself in Britain (Authentic, 2015) and The Living Cross (BRF, 2016). She loves speaking to groups, running the Woman Alive book club and writing devotional thoughts. Connect with her at amyboucherpye.com.
March 19th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White