You see, I did not grow up in a denomination that participated in Ash Wednesday or Lent. As a child I heard others talk about "giving up something for Lent" but really didn't know what it was all about. I had attended the "old" Methodist Church (prior to the merger when we became "United") for a while as a child and I'm sure that Lent was not observed. When I returned to the Methodist Church I was surprised about a lot of things, and the observance of Lent was one of them. (Just for the record, for several years after I did give up something during the 6 weeks of Lent, and it was hard!).
I think the concept behind fasting and giving up sweets or something that you enjoy is excellent. We are in a time of preparing ourselves for Holy Week and for receiving the gift of Easter and it is very appropriate for personal denial and sacrifices at this time. But I had to wonder today, did my co-workers really understand what Ash Wednesday is all about? I know this is the only day of the year that some of them go to church, so I had to wonder if their giving up something really has meaning. I hope so.
On a final note, one of the devotional books that I read had an interesting article today. The author suggested that instead of giving up something we should resolve to do something good each day. She gave an example of calling a friend or sending them a card. I think this is an excellent idea for this season of Lent. Let's share God's love by serving him!