Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.
I never really understood Lent.
Correction: I never really understood other people's reactions to Lent.
Growing up Lutheran, it was always about giving up something like soda or sweets or cursing, not being able to say or sing "alleluia" (except if you're in choir rehearsal, and even then it's a little sketchy), and remembering how sinful and awful we all are.
For most of my life I could never really quite place why I never really liked these things about Lent, it was mostly just an uneasy feeling I had.
It wasn't until God's word became more tangible for me, sometime during college, that I finally got it.
I realized this kind of attitude toward Lent, the constant mourning, the constant "woe is me, I'm such a sinful awful person, and I can't be happy again ever" is. . . not useful.
I realized that Jesus paid the price for us once, for all. Key word being "once." Once for all time. As in, forever and ever amen.
So many Christians around me when I was growing up acted as if some magical, space-time continuum clock was reset on Ash Wednesday, and we're back to the time before Jesus died on the cross, before we were redeemed, and we're still waiting to be sanctified.
While I do understand and appreciate the need to contemplate Christ's immense sacrifice, I think instead of mourning it for 40 days, mourning our own sinful nature, we should keep rejoicing that Jesus came for us, that he redeemed us.
Will remembering how much we screw up make us not screw up anymore? Not really.