Many of you lifelong Disciples know that until the late 60's, Disciples didn't think much of Lent, unless we had Roman Catholic friends and coworkers who discussed it around us. My friend, John Gardner, was a serious Catholic who took all of the major holy days and seasons quite seriously, so each winter I got a dose of John "sermonizing" about why we should all observe Lent. When I reached the 9th grade, though, we had a new pastor who worked hard to bring us into line with the rest of the Church and teach us about Lent as a spiritual practice.
Since that time, I have rarely missed out on this holy time. I tend not to think of it as work, but as an opportunity to practice, privately, a more strenuous spiritual discipline. Sometimes, I fail miserably (like whenever I convince myself in midFebruary that a 24-hour fast once a week is a thing I can do!); at other times, I seem to breeze through praying all the Psalms twice or more during the 40-days!
Often, though, I forget the first rule of Lent: talk to God about what and why you are doing what you're doing! The success of Jesus' time in the wilderness (if it can be called "success") was that he kept God right in front of him. That's more the point than anything else: Lent should bring us closer to God, not help us rack up self-esteem points by what we are able to do on our own.
Observances that we can do: daily Bible reading (learning not to study the Bible only, but to converse with it, asking our questions and listening and reading for answers); daily meditation (sitting silently and letting ourselves be aware of being surrounded by God); giving up foods that maybe aren't that good for us anyway (and praying every time we start to waver in our discipline); fasting (again, be careful about this!), even if it's only a partial fast (maybe only water and crackers or a piece of bread for lunch); keeping up with social issues - hunger, racism, war, violence, environmental changes, etc. - and offering prayers or educating ourselves about the issue or issues; being kinder to people as you wander around Wilson doing your daily chores. You get the idea!
Whatever you and I do, though, let's be sure and take it to God daily. That's the only reason for Lent, really: to draw us closer to the One who loves us, and everyone, unconditionally!
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These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.