Okay, if you grew up Protestant, especially in the Reformed tradition, back during the decades of the Baby Boom, what did you do for Lent? Many of us went to Church and Sunday School back then because it was the thing that one did. But do any of you remember doing anything special for Lent? I can remember my Catholic friends having to give something up for the six weeks leading to Easter, often candy or desserts, but sometimes a favourite TV show. And although it wasn’t Lent, I remember my Jewish school chums also celebrating a very special meal called Passover, which often seemed to coincide with our Easter. But for the life of me, I cannot remember doing anything during the Season of Lent at the United Church where I grew up in the sixties and early seventies.
In the last twenty-five to thirty years, our Protestant churches have tried to introduce practices that would highlight this important season in our Church year. We have used Lenten candle liturgies with our children in worship, a kind of reverse Advent candle liturgy. (Come to think of it, we didn’t have Advent wreaths when I was growing up either!) Instead of lighting a candle for every week, you snuff one out until you finally come to Good Friday when all the candles are snuffed out, symbolizing the death of Christ.
Nowadays many of us crave more ritual and spiritual practices in our day to day lives. Ritual helps to ground us and connect us more deeply to one another and to our faith. Today we have Shrove Tuesday Pancake Suppers, Ash Wednesday Services, Lenten devotions and of course one or two special services during Holy Week. But when I was a kid I don’t even remember having a Good Friday service. For that matter, we did not celebrate Christmas Eve either.
So what did we do? Does anyone remember? I would love to hear from you!