I’d be willing to guess that in any poll that would ask the question “what is the most important Christian holiday??” Christmas would be the overwhelming winner. Now I love Christmas as much as the next guy…maybe more. But what is it that we appreciate about it?? Is it the fact that it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ (Yes…I know all about how Christians abducted the pagan celebration of Saturnalia and that it is unlikely that Jesus was actually born on December 25th, but let’s just roll with it, shall we??), or is it because we love all the secular trappings like the food, the music, the movies and TV specials, the decorations, and the gifts?? The exploration of that dispute can wait until December. For now I would like to suggest that, though the birth of Christ is certainly of supreme significance, it would not mean much of anything without His death and even more importantly, His resurrection. To that end maybe we ought to give a little more love to Easter. The candy folks have given it the old college try, but let’s face it…The Easter Bunny vs. Santa Claus is about as good of a matchup as Barney Fife vs. Mike Tyson. Peeps, Cadbury Eggs, and frilly bonnets are no match for Silent Night, “You’ll shoot your eye out!!”, and twinkle lights. But maybe that secular smackdown is a good thing, because it leaves Easter more pure and properly focused. I will likely have more to say about Easter in the next several weeks, but for now let us concentrate on where it all begins…Lent.
For the heathens among you, Lent is the season of preparation encompassing the 40 days before Easter. This is meant to symbolize Jesus’ time in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. It is traditional to make a sacrifice during Lent…to give up something one enjoys, a genuine vice. I always joke around about what I’m giving up for Lent…walking (I am a paraplegic), sex (I am sadly a serial loner with no love life), vegetables (my eating habits are far from healthy). However, this year I am on a mission. I have decided to take the whole Lent thing seriously. This is a byproduct of the past few months, as I have been going through a spiritual awakening, realizing just how superficial most peoples’ religiosity really is, including my own. I am seeking a deeper connection with my Heavenly Father and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I suppose Lent is a good place to start. I am as much of a stumbling bumbling fool when it comes to all this as anyone, but my Dad always said this: “I want you to be the best but sometimes that won’t be possible…If you can’t be the best then be one of the best, but even that won’t always happen…So if you can’t be one of the best then atleast try your best…you can always do that”. I am trying my best.
To that end what I have decided to do is give up Facebook for Lent. Again for the benefit of the uninitiated, Facebook is a social networking site. In the past year on Facebook I have reconnected with literally hundreds of old acquaintances from all aspects of my past and present…grade school, high school, college, church, family, every job I’ve ever had. It really is very cool to see what people are into, where they live and what they do for a living, see photos of their families, etc. It’s a great way to stay in touch. All of those whom I considered my friends live far away from me…Dallas TX, Columbus OH, Charleston WV, and many other far flung towns across the map, from Montana to Georgia to Florida New York to California. So I am grateful that technology allows me to maintain some form of contact. However, Facebook is also rather addicting. There are countless games, quizzes, polls, and other applications that one can mindlessly get lost in for hours. I’m not against some pointless fun on occasion, but I do feel like I waste a lot of time that could otherwise be spent on more consequential activities like prayer, studying The Bible, reading a good book, or even getting the proper amount of sleep.
I am just a couple days in right now and it’s tough. But I am embracing the challenge. I am looking forward to what I can accomplish during this time, and definitely looking forward to drawing closer to The Lord, which after all is kind of the whole idea. When Easter arrives I will reactivate my Facebook account…those relationships and friendly interactions are important to me and I don’t want to give them up permanently. But I am sure I will have gained a new perspective and hopefully will have opened some doors to be able to witness to the masses about my faith. We’ll see.