March 1, 2006 | 19 Comments

I grew up in a tradition where I knew nothing of Lent, except that it meant that a girl I liked in eighth grade couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. I’ve seen Lent mentioned on several other blogs — I’m not sure if it is trendy this year, or if it is just because it is on my radar. I’ve decided to partipate in lent this year (but just for the record, I decided to do it before it was what all the cool bloggers were doing).

In January, I was in a class that challenged me to think about celebrating Lent as a viable Christian practice. I have been struck in recent years with the feeling that Easter didn’t hold the sacredness for me that it should. It has mostly about being a part of a big Sunday in a church with a lot of new faces. I like the idea of building an anticipation of Easter, and joining millions of other Christians around the world in doing so.

For me, I will be abstaining caffeine this season as a stimulant. I’m not going to try to completely cut it out, because I know that it is difficult to avoid. But I will be only be drinking decaf coffee and caffeine free drinks. Yes, I know decaf coffee has traces of caffeine — I’m cutting it out as a stimulant, no outright, so get off me. (Look at that…I’m getting edgy already.)

  • I think about doing this every year, but it’s quite difficult in my industry.

  • Hey John,

    I’ve been off caffeine for 23 days now. The worst part is the headaches the first week or so. However, I’ve noticed that my hands don’t shake anymore, and I don’t have the huge highs and lows that I had when I was drinking eight cups of coffee a day. At first I told myself, “I will only drink water, juice and milk – except when I go to Chipotle. I must have a Coke at Chipotle.” But I’ve been to Chipotle several times in the last three weeks, and I haven’t had a Coke.

    It’s not that I’m giving up on caffeine completely – I just wanted to get it to the point where I’m not dependent on it for my day to day stuff.

  • I’m going to give up putting ice in my coke when eating at chipotle.

  • Great minds think a like….

  • Well, Zach, take the next step and give up the cup for your coke. Drink it from your hands. That’s what a super-Christian would do.

  • Well, Zach, what you should really do is give up having a cup for your coke. Drink it from your hands. That’s what a super-Christian would do.

  • good luck with the caffiene. You will be tired.

    I think Lent is a bit trendy this year. A lot of the more “in tune” guys at school all went to Catholic mass tonight to participate in it.

  • I have to admit, as part of a liturgical tradition, the idea of Lent being “trendy” kind of turns my stomach. I know you’re not trying to be flip or anything. But if we’ve gotten to the point where Christian disciplines can be “trendy,” then something, somewhere, is out of whack.

    Lent was the only time in high school that I missed youth group. You see, my (Lutheran) church didn’t have a youth program, so I went to an interdenominational youth group on Wednesday nights. Truly fantastic; great Bible study, awesome fellowship. But not any liturgical roots at all. So no Lent stuff.

    So every Wednesday, I’d head over to my church for mid-week worship, then catch the fellowship time at my youth group. (When I was old enough to drive; my folks wouldn’t shlep me over to another church to “hang out” after I’d been to a worship service!)

    I’m not at all saying one can’t be a Christian without observing Lent. I just wouldn’t know how to. It’s so fundamental to the Christian traditions of East and West. One of my real hopes for the “emergent conversation” is a deeper foundation in the “stuff” of Christianity that was understood to be absolutely indespensible for about oh, 1700 years. If “trendy” is a step along the way, so be it. But I dearly hope “trendy” is only a stop along the road.


  • I have to agree with Evers on this one when it comes to Lent being “trendy”. But I can see how Lent may seem trendy if a person did not grow up with it. It’s funny, I was raised Lutheran too, and I am so thankful for my upbringing. I never knew that I would be so thankful for such a foundation.

    I have noticed, since I have been outside of the Lutheran church, that there are all kinds of people who have no idea what the church year is about. I don’t really think that’s a bad thing, for a variety of reasons. But I am thankful that I just know about it because I was raised in it. It gives a fullnes to the rest of my walk. Even though I no longer attend a Lutheran church, I feel that my relationship with Jesus is richer as a result of my background.

    Anyway… it’s strange to me also that Lent would be a “trendy” thing. I guess something becomes trendy when you discover it for the first time and you think it’s cool… In that sense, Lent can be trendy to those who have never experienced it… Because, from a perspective of one never having experienced it… it’s true that it’s a “cool” way to prepare for the Resurrection. It can help us to focus.

  • One more thought… I used to observe Lent all the time, growing up. Then there came a point when I wondered why I did it… so I stopped, intentionally. I did not want the “fast” to be a trendy thing. I wanted to be fasting if God called me to do so, but not out of mere tradition and a specific time of the year.

    I think this may be a reason that the trend of non and inter-denominational churches tends not to focus on the calendar of the church year. I think they must have all come away from traditional mainline denominations and wanted to move away from tradition without heart. It’s interesting to see that may be shifting once again.

    I think it is important to follow through with the things that God puts on our heart, and not just do something because everyone else is doing it, or because it may be trendy. I have always shyed away from this kind of thing. I want my heart to be honest before the Lord and not just “doing the next thing”.

  • Zach, This proves to me that your view of Lent is superficial and that you really don’t care about God. Making jokes about lent. Next thing you know you’ll be posting about it on your blog and making people feel bad for asking questions about your superficial religious practices.

  • ryanrivvy

    Mars Hill is celebrating lent this year. They hand out free “lent books” and free guilt for everyone who doesn’t participate.

  • You got me, Dean! Guilty as charged. I just thought practicing Lent this year would help my wife see just how sexy I am. So far, it hasn’t worked. Lent sucks.

  • I gave up being sexy for Lent.

  • JJ

    Dean, let’s be honest, giving up all that sexy is dang near impossible, I should know. Heaven is my witness that I’ve tried because my life would be so much easier, but I just can’t get rid of it all. I’m not sure it’s even an option for guys like us to try. We’d have to change everything about us, our walk, our talk, our attitude, our calves. We’d have to dull ourselves down to the point of where we would be… well… John. John really should be the example for all of us on how to be as least sexy as possible. Thank you John for being the example of how to give up sexy for lent. I wish I could achieve your depth of depravity, but God would ask that of no other man, not even for lent.

  • Next year I’m giving up Lent for Lent.

  • Ryan – can you mail me a lent book?

  • Oh man, you guys crack me up. That is really all I have to say.