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I was a little girl, maybe eight years old. We were
Episcopalians at the time, so all my friends from Sunday School had been
talking about what they were giving up for Lent. Forty days of deprivation,
with lots of speculation as to whether it was cheating to eat (because as a
kid, it was almost always food of some sort that we gave up) the desired item
At school, I asked a friend the same question. “I’m a
Baptist,” she replied. “We don’t believe in Lent.”
“Why?” I asked.
She said she needed to ask her mother. The next day, she
reported, “We don’t believe in Lent because we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us
every day of the year.”
I didn’t know what to say.
Every year, when Ash Wednesday rolls around, I remember
that conversation as I try to decide if and how I will observe Lent. I’m no
longer an Episcopalian, so my church life is not governed by the liturgical
calendar. I know that God has not commanded me to observe 40 days of Lenten
fasting. And yet I also know that Christians have done so throughout the
centuries as a means of remembering the cross and preparing for Good Friday.