I had the blessing of growing up “in church”. We attended church every Sunday, faithfully. While growing up I found this to be a mixed blessing and as an adult, it took me a while to have a proper appreciation for the tremendous grounding in the Word of God and matters of faith that growing up in church can provide. However, I grew up in an extremely non-liturgical church; the closest we came to anything remotely liturgical was to occasionally sing The Doxology. Lent and Maundy Thursday, even Good Friday to an extent, were never mentioned and if referenced by someone, the response was always dismissive with a somewhat disdainful air. So, for the longest time, I didn’t pay attention to any of these at all. I attended a couple of Good Friday services when invited, but did not find them very meaningful (though I have a good understanding of the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, as much as mere mortals can, I believe).
Now, having confessed all this ignorance and its roots, I was not just a little surprised when the lead pastor of the new (to me) evangelical church I’m associated with announced a focus on Lent. (Really?) But, to my surprise and edification, he revealed that he valued Lent not so much as a season for sacrifice and giving up stuff, but as a season to genuinely and purposefully spend time in focused thinking on Jesus ~ His suffering, His sacrifice, the new life we have in Him, and all that means and can mean for us and the lost around us. Okay! Now we’re talkin’!
As one for whom in the busyness of my life, Resurrection Sunday usually catches me somewhat flat-footed and unprepared, considering Lent in this light would be Really Good, at least for me in terms of preparing better for the holiday. My dad, who’s not yet a believer but has some experience with church-going, would rightly say from time to time, “If I were a Christian, not that I’d ignore Christmas, but it seems to me Easter should be a much bigger cause for celebration than Christmas.” and I agreed, but never quite got around to making changes that reflected what I intellectually agreed with. So this year, I simply pondered Lent with this new view, but I do think I’ll follow in our pastor’s path next year and more purposefully engage the Lenten season.
Now having “shaken hands” with a serious consideration of Lent, my thoughts turned to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, realizing I’ve never taken the time to look into Maundy Thursday at all, and have been rather dismissive of Good Friday services as well. Perhaps it’s time to ~ at the very least ~ find out what Maundy Thursday is and is all about, and likewise, reconsider Good Friday. So I invite you to tag along with me over these next few days as this newbie from non-liturgical traditions explores these days of faith traditions important to many, and perhaps to me as well now.