Let me begin by saying that I am not becoming Catholic, nor am I leading RiverTree in that direction. However, I am also not Protestant, nor is RiverTree a Protestant church. Protestant means to “protest” against Catholicism. I personally am a follower of Jesus who is part of a church made up of Jesus-followers, all of us together doing our best to be the church in a broken world.
Sooo, when we attempt to draw people closer to God by asking them to sacrifice something pleasurable for a short period of time it does not mean that we’ll soon be sprinkling babies or asking people to pay a fee for the forgiveness of sins. It is simply an attempt to creatively (and I believe the idea of fasting is also VERY Biblical) encourage people to draw near to God and place their full dependence on Him.
With all of that said, I did not grow up in a tradition that practiced Lent. I don’t have a negative association with many of the traditions that other Christians practice. If I have been insensitive to those who have come out of such a background, I am deeply sorry. In no way did I anticipate that placing ashes on our forehead as a symbol of our dependence on God nor giving up something we enjoy to remind us to make sure that nothing has taken God’s place in our hearts might cause anyone distress. I pray you will continue to struggle along with me as we together fumble about with the things of God.
For those of you who are finding this to be a very meaningful experience, I pray that you will continue to join me on this journey of sacrifice. Not taking hot showers and not drinking coffee is certainly not enjoyable, but it has spurred me to focus on Jesus and the needs of others in a very refreshing way.