Ash Wednesday + February 14, 2018
So, what are you giving up for Lent? That’s been a very popular question today! For many people giving up something for Lent is a family faith tradition. And it’s a good tradition. It challenges us, and it develops in us, a sense of discipline. Many people give up things that are not necessarily healthy for them, (things like soda or sugar or chocolate,) and that’s a good thing.
But if we had to be honest most of the things we give up for Lent are not necessarily part of a significant “spiritual quest.” They are usually more of a “self-help” or “self-discipline” kind of thing. And once again that’s not a bad thing, it can be a very good thing; but at the same time, it’s not really a spiritual thing, something that intentionally leads to a deep-seated transformation, a deeper richer faith life, a life in which “all things are made new,” the thing that Lent is primarily (truly) designed to bring about in us.
Lent is a faith journey, not a trip to the gym.
I find it more helpful to answer a different question, rather than thinking about what I might give up for Lent, I ask myself what kind of spiritual discipline might I add to my life during the season of Lent. Now usually when you add things to your life you have to give up something else, (There’s only so much time in any given day!) but I believe there is a difference between adding something positive as opposed to giving up something negative. In Lent we are called to make or create extra time (and or resources) to be used to grow, enhance, and revitalize our faith life.
So what spiritual discipline might you add to your life over the next forty days of Lent? What might you do to really change, transform, your life? What might you add to your life in order that you might fully encounter the risen Christ on Easter morning?
What would it be like if you spent more time in prayer this Lent? What would it be like if you found a prayer partner and began a prayerful conversation with God? What if you joined the prayer chain?What might happen if you started a prayer journal, a daily dialog with God? What might happen if you prayed for others, those in need, for a world in need? Would that change your life?
What would it be like if you practiced the ancient faith discipline of fasting?
What if you skipped lunch one day a week and spent that time reading scripture and donating the money you would have spent on that lunch to Caring Hands? What if you fasted from “Starbucks” a few times a week and passed those savings on to a ministry that makes a difference in the life of those experiencing homelessness. What if you fasted from TV on Tuesday nights and came down and volunteered at the Caring Hands Dinner? Instead of simply “giving something up,” what if you intentionally “fasted” from something, and in the process created an opportunity for something else that makes a difference? Would that change your life?
What would it be like if you read your bible during Lent? What would it be like if you read your bible with a partner? What might happen if together you talked about the scriptures and what they might mean, right here and right now in your life? What would happen if the Word came to life in your life? Would that change your life?
What if you took some time to go for long silent walks in nature? What if you spent some time visiting someone who doesn’t get many visitors? What if, (you can fill in the blank!) What if you did something different, and experienced God in a new way a way that refreshed your faith, a way that newly inspired your calling in life? Would that change your life?
Lent is a season for adding spiritual disciplines that will cause you to grow in your faith, activities that will enable you to leap into Easter, faithful and faith filled endeavors that will lead to a deeper faith and more abundant life.
I “hope” this Lenten season you will be able to “give up” something that makes you healthier, (I’m going to try to stop eating chocolate – every single day!); I hope you can do that, but I “pray” that you will also be able to “add” a spiritual discipline that will cause you to reflect on your life, challenge and grow your faith, give you an opportunity to serve, and ultimately strengthen your relationship with Christ. Amen.