Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lent - Part One

Lent is the season in the church year when Christians emulate Jesus' retreat into the wilderness for 40 days after His baptism. It is a time for reflection, prayer, penitence, and self-denial as we prepare to be virtually buried with Christ in the tomb and resurrected with Him on that glorious Easter morning.

In both ancient and medieval times, Lenten practices revolved around food consumption; meat and, in many cases, animal by-products were forbidden although fish was an allowed substitute. "Carnival", the celebration on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, literally means "farewell to meat"! Today, many people still choose this discipline, embracing vegetarianism for Lent or banning a particularly favored food item from their diet such as chocolate, coffee, or ice cream.

Going the food route is all well and good, especially if your denial of these particular pleasures turns your heart and mind toward God for strength to resist temptation and to focus on Him. I would also suggest, however, in this age of technological tempters, that there may be other pastimes we too often fall prey to instead of reading our Bibles or enriching our prayer lives. You might want to analyze how much television you are watching, how often you are hopping on Facebook to play Farmville, or how frequently you are surfing the web when it's not work-related. Are you "Tweeting" like mad? Is there a game on your computer that daily calls your name? Have you just about worn out your Wii?

As much as giving up a food or an activity is crucial during Lent, I have found it just as important to take on a new discipline to fill the void, one which constructively helps me to grow in my spiritual walk. Could you consider joining a prayer group or Bible study or start one yourself? Can you designate more time at home for prayer and meditation? Are you available to volunteer at a homeless shelter, a retirement home, or a food pantry?

As Lent approaches, I hope each one of you will honestly and humbly reflect upon what pastimes are hindering a closer relationship with God and prayerfully consider what needs to be both set aside and done during these 40 days. I invite you to leave your comments on what you will be doing for Lent, either here on my blog or on Facebook. In Lent - Part Two, I will share these anonymously with other readers and also disclose what I have decided to give up and take on for the season.

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you! Blessings!

3 comments:

  1. While I am giving up my time on Facebook for Lent, it's more freeing up time that is typically spent alone in my office instead of spending that time with my husband and/or friends and/or in reflection in the Word. It will be my time to regroup after a journey in the valley these past three months. Reestablish new routines and to spend those hours with my loving family.

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  2. Hey Martha - We are working on a sermon series at church about Lent and I am in the midst of trying to figure out what I'll be giving up. Thanks for giving me more to think about.

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  3. I thought about giving up Facebook. I did it a couple of years ago. But when I thought about it, my main distraction right now is my IPod touch. I use it to check my email, browse Facebook, play games, etc.

    I use it after Ansley drifts off to sleep, but before I put her in her crib, and I would like to refocus that time to praying for her.

    I also now that Ben gets annoyed because I check it while we are spending time together after Ansley goes to bed. That time is precious, because we don't get as much "us" time now. So, I will refocus that IPod time to better quality time with my husband.

    I also need the overall refocus that I do not need to depend on answer an email immediately... it can wait until Ansley's next nap when I have time to get on the computer.

    I think the first few days will be hard, but I think I will enjoy the changes.

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