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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why Lent?

Last year, our church decided to observe a season of Lent for the first time. Everyone got into it so much that we decided to have a second go around this year.

The idea of Lent can be confusing, especially for those of us that may have come from either non-traditional or non-religious backgrounds. The idea of intentionally going without something that we enjoy really runs counter to the way the rest of our life works. I talked to one gal, though, who actually told me she couldn't wait for Lent to start. Her comment was, "It's so different from everything else I do. Everywhere else I am looking to add things and maximize my life. Lent is a way that I let go and simplify in order to find more of Christ."

Her statement rings with truth. We live in a day and age where we are encouraged, if not instructed, to get as much as we can that will add joy, comfort, ease, or satisfaction to our day to day experience. In a world of iPads and Apps, Tablets and tweets, we are programmed to ask "Can I?" and rarely do we ever pause to say, "Should I?" And so when we intentionally choose to deny ourselves something, it feels...well, for lack of a better word...weird. We are so hooked into the world around us that disconnecting can actually be described as painful. (My sister-in-law posted about this experience recently. I think you'd enjoy her post:

Ironically, instead of asking "Why Lent?", we should be asking, "Why everything else?" Why isn't every day, every week, spent in a deep focus on the life, suffering, resurrection and glorification of Christ? Why do I need a special season to concentrate on this? Shouldn't this be a powerful suggestion to my soul that I have allowed too much "stuff" to creep in and sponge up my energy, my time and my attention? Why am I so geared to gaining for self that the practice of denying for Him seems foreign?

So we have chosen to observe Lent, not because stuff is bad, but because Jesus is so good. And unless we walk daily in an awareness of His goodness and in constant communion with His love, we miss out on all the goodness He wants to pour out on us.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

May Christ be at home in your life as you journey on-


1 comment:

Melanee said...

I'm taking a quick break from getting rid of "stuff" in my house to read this great post on Lent.

Lent reminds me a lot of fasting from food and water, which I personally do for about 24 hours a month, donating the money I would spend on meals to the needy, and praying specifically for someone in need.

Giving up something in the physical realm, particularly food and water, reminds me of my utter reliance on Him, and His bounteous grace and generosity towards me. It reminds me also of people who do not have what I have, and in turn inspires me to be more generous.

Perhaps for me the greatest benefit of giving something up to God, coupled with prayer, is the access to His Spirit I feel when I do. Because my body, or my space, or my head is not cluttered with as much unnecessary "stuff" I am more available to hear Him speak to me. Love that.

My favorite line in your entire post is this one. "So we have chosen to observe Lent, not because stuff is bad, but because Jesus is so good." Ah. Such great writing. So clear, so honest, so true. Thanks, Nick!