Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lent: A Journey in Spiritual Discipline

I admit it.  I've never given up anything for Lent.  Part of the reason is due to the fact that I never actually "had to"  (it was more of a suggestion rather than a requirement).  No, I didn't switch churches, and I still don't "have to" give anything up for Lent, but I was missing part of the point of this whole Lenten sacrifice thing.

This year my church as taken a different spin on the tradition of Lenten sacrifice.  We printed off bookmarks and handed them out to those in attendance at Wednesday night worship during this Lenten season.  We were encouraged to keep these bookmarks someplace where we would see them regularly in order to remind us of the depth and true nature of the spiritual journey upon which we were about to embark.

Instead of following the tradition of giving one thing up for Lent, we were given a list of 6 different aspects of our lives that we would focus on during each week.  The idea was to be able to build a stronger relationship with Christ through more areas in our lives than that gained through the sacrifice of one indulgence for a full 40 days.  I thought it was an interesting twist and one worth blogging about.  The following is from the bookmark:
Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lenchten, which menas "spring." The season is a preparation for celebrating Christ's victory over death on Easter Sunday.

To assist our faith community in this journey, we will focus on a unique spiritual dscipline each of the 6 weeks of Lent. You will be challenged to give up something new each week, replacing it with  spiritual discipline such as prayer, fasting, givng to the poor, etc. Our prayer is that by engaging in these disciplines, you will draw closer in relationship to your Savior Christ Jesus.

March 9: Hallowed be Thy Name
Focus:  Giving up a form of media (TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.) and replacing with prayer.

March 16: Thy Kingdom Come
Focus: Giving up a social activity and replacing with service to an organization or individual.

March 23: Thy Will be Done
Focus: Giving up social media (Facebook, email, etc.) and replacing with scripture reading and devotions.

March 30: Give us this Day our Daily Bread
Focus: Fasting for a day or giving up a comfort food or drink (dessert, alcohol, coffee) and replacing with financial support and prayer for the poor.

April 6: Forgive us our Trespasses, as we Forgive those who Trespass against us
Focus: Giving up a grudge and replacing with prayer for our enemies and seeking reconciliation.

April 13: Lead us not into Temptation, but Deliver us from Evil
Focus: Giving up individualism and replacing with accountability and mentorship.


The good news: Because the ultimate sacrifice as already been made through the blood shed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the cross, no further sacrifice is necessary among believers to gain admittance into Heaven.  Lent is a season for prayer, humility, honor and glory to God in remembrance of what He has done for us.  Personal sacrifice, although not required as a merit to receive the grace and mercy that God has shown us, does have benefit in the penitent heart and prayerful stance called forth in building a stronger relationship with our Father in Heaven.  

As God's children we are called to spread the good news of this Gospel to all the earth.  Not with a pious "My Lenten sacrifice is greater than thine" attitude, but with good cheer and pure hearts.  In building a stronger relationship with our Lord in our own lives, we are better able to serve Him and spread this good news!

Here's to Days Just Packed with spiritual discipline this Lenten season and spreading the Gospel to others!