Once again my Baptist upbringing puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to the rhythms of this liturgical season. But I am learning. I've never been to an Ash Wednesday service, nor do I feel that it's especially important. I do, however, want to temper my heart these next 40 days to think about the Cross and what it means for every nook and cranny of my life.
Of course Lauren Winner's words are helpful as I think about becoming a person who lets the traditions of the church rub up against my here-in-this-moment life more than my Baptist forefathers might approve. From Girl Meets God: "During Lent, I don't have that always-cure, and I find myself, not surprisingly, praying more."
I have thought long and hard about what my "always-cure" might be so that I could give it up for the next six weeks. But I can't think for the life of my what would be most profitable to give up. I heard someone say once, maybe when I was in high school, that it's best to add a practice to your life during Lent rather than to fast. To just give up say, chocolate, doesn't do much good for your spiritual state if you chow down on it first thing Easter morning and never look back (and besides, who can do without mini Cadbury eggs this time of year anyway?) The point of Lent, I think, is to feast on the Cross in such a way that I might be just a little more Christ-like when it's over.
I've decided that I want to do something equivalent to my Advent tradition of meeting with the Lord over Scripture and other readings morning and night. Since I'm working through the one-year Bible reading plan, I'll move that to mornings and do my Lenten readings at night. If it sounds like I'm trying to be super spiritual, I'm not. It's just that my always-cure is many things that aren't God, and I want more of Him, more of His Word. I want Him to be my default.
Here's a link to the reading plan I'll be using, which is adapted from the Book of Common Prayer. The book I'll go through is Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, compiled by Nancy Guthrie. I'll share liturgies and prayers as I come across them.
Here's one from the traditional Ash Wednesday service:
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son, our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.