Sunday, February 19, 2012

Will You Take Up the Cross?

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

Today is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. Ash Wednesday, February 22, marks the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.

Traditionally, Lent is a time when Christians give up doing something they ordinarily enjoy. Or, enjoy too much. Like candy. Or, dessert. Red meat. Coffee. Soda. Tea.

One year, a friend of mine actually gives up Facebook. I think most of you reading this here would agree - that's some serious self-denial!

Last Lent, I give up playing computer solitaire. I know. That doesn't sound like much of a cross to bear. But, I feel addicted to it. It drains precious time I could spend doing so many other productive, meaningful activities.

It has to go. And, it will go again this time around. Because, after Easter, like an unwanted guest, it creeps back in . . .

But, to me, Lent is not just about giving up something. It is, also, about taking something on. Beginning a new practice or routine which draws me closer to the Lord.

The two disciplines I adopt last Lent are maintaining an organized prayer list and completing a dedicated scripture study.

These habits, thankfully, stay with me. My prayer list is always next to my computer where I see it continually. And, I study the scriptures daily as I prepare my devotions.

So, what am I taking on this Lent?

I am resuscitating some yoga exercises I did years ago but all but abandoned when I began steadily working out in the gym. My body needs the stretching. My mind needs to be in that contemplative place where I can truly be open to hear God's voice.

To listen in the calm and repose.

Make room for His thoughts.

Be still and know . . .
What will you be giving up or taking on this Lent?

Will you pray with me?
During this season of Lent, Father, help us to deny ourselves in joy and obedience to Your will. Bless the new disciplines we decide to take on. In it all, Lord, draw us closer to You. May we, with grateful hearts, take up the cross of Jesus daily. Amen.

Psalms 148, 149, 150 or 114, 115
Ecclesiasticus (Apocrypha) 48:1-11
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Luke 9:18-27


  1. Good morning! I haven't paid attention to lent since I was a child and still attending the Catholic Church. I remember giving up things back then. Now, I file this under the same category as New Year's resolutions. I don't bother any more.
    WIth that said, I must admit I like the idea of putting something aside and opening up that space in my life to something more rewarding. I'm going to think about this Martha. I like the spirit of it.
    Sending love,

    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Leah, and glad you enjoyed the post.
      For many years, I, too, did not conscientiously observe Lent. I've returned to doing so just in the past several years and have found it to be so rewarding.
      I'm glad you're mulling this one over for yourself!

  2. Last year was the first year I had ever observed Lent. At first I was going to give up coffee, then thought of the insanity that I'd be causing my family if I did and thought I'd give up fb...Then I realized that if I gave something like that up I'd be focusing more on what I'd be giving up then on God. That's when I thought of adding more scripture and prayer time and it really was a fruitful endeavor.

    1. Thanks, Jessica, for stopping by today!
      I think you made a very wise choice here. If what we give up makes others' lives miserable and doesn't help us to focus on God, it isn't what we should do. I'm glad your added scripture reading and prayer time were beneficial for you.

  3. I have never participated in Lent but this year I would like to. I need to sit and think what I want to give up. I really like the prayer list that you have close to your computer. That is such a wonderful thing to do and if you don`t mind, I would like to borrow the idea :)

    Have a blessed week!

    1. Oh, Nelieta, please do! The daily readings come from The Book of Common Prayer and I include them so everyone can see where I get my scripture for the devotion and so they can choose further study and meditation. It would be a great thing for you to take on for Lent! :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Martha - you're a woman after my own heart. I do believe there's too much emphasis on giving up things for Lent. So much more positive to include good practices. Like you, I'm going to take up yoga again. I also want to include more time for reflective reading. Thank you for inspiring me ♥

    1. Wow, Corinne, taking up yoga? Are we friends made in heaven, or what? :) This gives me goosebumps!
      I'm glad you felt inspired by this and thanks again for sending the Lenten practices which I have shared to my feed. I know these will be helpful for those who wish to do something for Lent, but are uncertain which faith direction to take.
      Love and blessings, my friend!

  5. Hi Martha. I read this last night but I went to prayer first before writing down my reflections. I am glad by what I read from your post and from our friends' comments. You all widened my view of Lent.

    While doing "Is God a Panacea?" I wanted to reveal myself fully because it included things I have to give up.

    My SD said we give up something inorder to pursue a higher cause...

    I'll reflect on the cross I'll be taking up... Thank you Martha :)I'm praying with you while preparing myself and the children for this season.


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