Saturday, February 09, 2013

Join Us Observing Lint - I Mean LENT! Seriously. Lent.

Alene and I have are going to be observing Lint this year.

At least that what Alene and I chuckled about when she brought up the idea a few weeks ago. Imagine staring at the clothes dryer for 40-days.  That would indeed be a huge sacrifice.

Lent is a 40-day period before Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) that is meant to facilitate a focusing and deepening of our dedication to the spiritual disciplines we should be practicing all year long as followers of Christ.

Lent is not just a Catholic experience. Lent is celebrated and practiced by many more Christian denominations than I thought. Episcopalians, Lutherans, many Methodist churches, as well as a growing number of Presbyterian and even Baptist churches observe Lent in some fashion. It is a growing trend among evangelical protestants, as noted by this article.

Lent this year begins on Wednesday, Feb 13th, with what is called Ash Wednesday, and ends on Good Friday, but many observers continue their dedication until Easter Sunday, culminating with the resurrection celebration.

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and some protestant denominations observe a tradition of having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross, to commemorate the life of Christ, and the beginning of the period before Easter.

The 40-day observation of Lent is often associated with Jesus' 40-days of fasting in the wilderness, where he spent his time fasting and praying.  Lent is not commanded by God or the Bible, but as an ancient church tradition it seems to have value as a time to do some spiritual 'spring cleaning', if you will.  Its a time to contemplate and examine our lives, and deepen some good habits, such as prayer and Bible study, we may have let slip a little during the rest of the year.

Although Alene and I probably won't get ashes on our foreheads on Wednesday, we will begin a 40-day period of sacrifice which will be marked by more attention to spiritual-disciplines such as prayer and fasting, and more attention to self-discipline for the purpose of examining other areas of our lives (body, soul, and spirit) to help us become more like Christ, to better serve the Kingdom.

Alene and I have agreed to fast from all fast-foods during Lent this year, and contribute what we save to charity (in my case, that could be substantial!). I am going to go an extra step and give up coffee and soft-drinks for Lent, and contribute those savings to Water for Life or Water is Life, or any number of other charities working around the world to provide clean water for the poor.

If I happen to lose a pound or two as a side-effect, I'll call it a win-win.

Lent is not traditionally observed at the church I attend.  I've come to the conclusion that, although Lent and many other 'church traditions' may not necessarily be explicit Biblical commands, many 'church traditions' (often rejected by the Reformed and evangelical church as regulations and rules) originally grew out of a desire to know God better.  Many had a focus on building consistency and better self- and spiritual-discipline in one's life.

I can say for certain that my observation of Lent this year will be a deeper and more meaningful season of dedication to and contemplation about God and my life than I've ever done before. Certainly deeper than what I typically experience during the rest of the year. 

I imagine this will be a good thing. 

I invite you to join with Alene and I in observing Lent in your own way this year.  

Lets 'fast' or give-up something that is a specific sacrifice, how ever small or large, and take the time, money, energy, or thoughts freed up by the sacrifice to deepen our relationship with and knowledge of God.  Let's take the freed up 'space' in our lives, and focus our attention just a bit more on God and others, and not ourselves.  

Let's do a little spiritual 'spring cleaning' in places we all know we could use some.  Let's celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and perhaps gain a little deeper understanding of what it meant when Jesus sacrificed himself "for the joy set before Him".   

When it's over, let's share about what the season meant to us, and what we discovered, if anything, about our walk with God and our love for one another. 

For some more information on Lent see It's a Catholic site, but who better to talk about Lent than Catholics? 

For some ideas on what to observe during Lent, or to join in on a great conversation to come up with some new ideas, see Rachel Held Evan's blog. 

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