I grew up in a church where the celebration of Easter was confined to waving a few palms on Palm Sunday and then the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
I now observe the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter and have succeeded most of the time in giving up something during that time.
The 40 days is a reminder of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness. He was fasting at the time and there is the tie-in to giving up something.
The observance begins on Ash Wednesday. Some participate in the imposition of ashes. My nephew, David, is a Methodist minister in the Augusta area. On Ash Wednesday, he was at a McDonalds before 7 a.m. for students to come and get ashes on their forehead before school. I thought it was pretty clever and what a great testimony for those students.
What about this giving up stuff? Well, it should be something that is important to you. It’s pretty easy to give up something like asparagus, especially if you don’t like it.
Some folks give up chocolate or bread or something that one might actually crave.
I saw a list of suggested things, including:
A social media site, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram might be a temptation to avoid. It might be cleansing to one’s soul to give up the chatter for 40 days, which incidentally does not include Sundays.
They also suggested giving up skipping church. In this case you might just feed your soul.
Chocolate is a regular favorite. I’m particularly guilty of this one. I love the taste of chocolate and it is a treat.
I gave up bread a few years ago during lent. This is particularly tough when you travel. Almost every fast food restaurant features some kind of sandwich. It makes adhering to bread fast rather difficult.
They also suggested giving up clothes. No, let’s don’t go naked, but maybe there is some good clothing in your closet that you don’t wear anymore.
You can give up Saturday mornings or afternoons and find some place to volunteer. An idea of giving up hot showers was not very appealing to me, especially on a week when we have seen some of our coldest weather of the season.
The list goes on and on.
I have come to embrace the Lenten tradition. I am particularly fond of Holy week. The Maundy or Holy Thursday service has become one of my favorites. It is the day we remember the last supper with Jesus and his disciples. Our church ends the service by removing all of the elements, such as the cross, the Bible and the flowers. It is a reminder of how Jesus was taken away to be crucified.
From time to time, we need something to cleanse us and refresh us with the hope that is Easter.
There is a song in the musical “Mame” about needing “a little Christmas.” Unfortunately, Christmas has gotten more about spending money and getting presents.
I think we need a lot of Easter and that’s why we have those 40 days to get ready.Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.