Even Though I’m Baptist
My earliest experience with Lent that I can remember took place in Burlington, Iowa when I was in middle school. I was in the car with my dad, driving down Roosevelt Avenue, when we passed our local Arby’s restaurant. The bright, red LED reader board proudly proclaimed “WE HAVE FISH SANDWICHES. 2 for $5!” I asked my dad why that was a big deal, figuring maybe the fish was rare or somehow special. “It’s because right now is Lent and some people stop eating beef for 40 days. But they can eat fish so lots of restaurants have specials to draw them in.” The idea of giving up any type of protein seemed incredibly dumb to my young self. No meat? I would starve! It was an uncomfortable thought.
Years later, I again encountered Lent but this time as an adult in Portland, Oregon. Having been enrolled at Multnomah University for a number of years at that point, I had many friends and acquaintances who were not mainstream baptist like myself. Some were more liturgical in their traditions and had a history of observing the 40 day period before Easter as part of their Christian faith. This felt altogether foreign to me – Easter got 1 day, not 40. And really it wasn’t even a full day but more like a couple hours in the morning with a big lunch and family pictures! Plus you couldn’t forget to wear really nice clothes. And, almost most importantly, on that one day you had to remember to initiate a specific greeting with a loud “He is Risen!” and then wait for the responder to equally proclaiming “He is Risen indeed!”
That was the extent of my Easter tradition. To do more would be…weird. Continue reading