My New Lent Tattoo
One college freshman at Catholic University boldly declared to his roommate that he planned on giving up pizza for Lent. Might seem small, but understand that’s a staple for most college students. His roommate didn’t make too much of it until a while later when his roommate told him he actually made it without pizza from December 1st until classes began in January. Laughing, his roommate explained that he had mixed up the season of Advent and Lent. Oh, well. He tried.
A pastor of a pretty hip church in Texas challenged his hip members to get tattoos on their bodies of the stations of the cross for Lent. Expecting about 10 or 12 people to jump on board, over 50 people stepped up and took the ashes idea of the Catholic Church to a whole new level. Another church, in Detroit, offers a Drive-thru Ashe Wednesday for those with little time to actually stop and get out of the car. I guess it’s supposed to be Lent made easy, but it sure does feel like Jesus made cheap.
As I approach this season, a passion burns in my soul for the beauty of self-sacrifice and repentance to become as much a permanent way of life as at Christmas, the “season of giving” extends throughout all 12 months. Working in ministry for over a quarter of a century has given me a great desire to never settle into anything less than the richness of Christ at the center of all we do. I’ve been asked about my favorite “holiday” before, and I’m quick to answer, “Good Friday.” There’s something about the reality of the suffering of Jesus Christ, giving himself completely for us on the cross. That, to me, signifies the greatest act of love ever committed.
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity, but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well. Matt: 6: 16-18 The Message NIV Version encourages us to “Do it in secret.”
One pastor gave up his home (temporarily) for Lent. It landed him on local news, interviewed by newspapers and magazines, and splattered around the web. The secret part was obviously lost, but I LOVE his biblical expression of a heart towards the poor and oppressed. If you read Isaiah 58, there’s something to be said of our sacrificial living and sacrificial giving being the primary reflection of Christ that the world is waiting to see as well as the one that pleases God most.
So, about that tattoo… I’ve been wanting to get one. At one church where I worked, several of us pastors sat together in a meeting and decided we would all get a piercing. I’m sure at the time someone had a biblical reasoning. A few days later, Monday morning rolls around, and I walk into staff meeting for a big “unveil.” To my surprise, I was the only one to go through with it. (It lasted about 3 months.) This was the same pastor group that all backed out of skydiving at the last minute.
May all of our sacrifice, fasting, repentance, and seeking lead us closer to a lifestyle of joyfully giving everything back to the One who gave everything for us.
There’s no place like HOPE,