Thursday, 24 March 2011

To Lent or Not to Lent - that is the question

To Lent or not to Lent - that is the question.

Well, obviously it's not the question anymore cause that would be WAY too late!

I have never observed Lent before. By that I mean that I have never sacrificed something for the 40 day period before Holy Saturday (day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday) in order to focus and prepare my heart for Easter, identifying (in a very small way!) with the sacrifice and suffering of our Saviour.

In truth, due to growing up in Evangelical Protestant churches, I hadn't really ever heard much about Lent. But there has been a growing trend to "give up something for Lent" and the more I heard about it, the more I found the idea of heart preparation and focus on Jesus to be an appealing one.

With two of our daughters having March birthdays, my own being in April, Spring Break thrown into the mix, and the fact that Easter is always at a different time each year - I find that the Easter season just sneaks up on me and is over almost as soon as it's begun.

(OK, I just about got myself on a rabbit trail there, and I so do not have time for a post that long right now, so I'll save it for another time. Look for an upcoming post titled "Easter Beats Christmas!")

But what I liked even more than giving something up for Lent, was reading in my cousin Tammi's post about purposefully taking on something new and adding deliberate acts of generosity and kindness to the observance of Lent (see Love Life Live Lent for more details on this philosophy).

Sidebar: Technically the period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday is more than 40 days because Sundays are supposed to be a "day off" so to speak.

So, I had decided I wanted to do it, now what exactly was "it" going to be?

Well, I considered giving up desserts or something like that. But in all honesty, the pretty big side benefit to giving up desserts is losing a couple pounds and quite frankly, made that seem less than altruistic to me. So that one was out. (Note: I'm not accusing anyone else of less than pure motives, just saying that my own would be)

In the end, I decided to pretty much copy my cousin Tammi (us Tammy/i's are pretty smart after all!). I decided to give up any extra-internet use (Facebooking, blogging, surfing, etc) unless I had completed my goals for the day. I'm obviously still doing my Bible blog (as that would be part of the goals for the day!), and I do check email (need to for business, plus that is simply one way people get ahold of me, and is honestly not my time-waster). But other than that - no internet usage until goals have been accomplished.

Now you know why you haven't seen me around here or Facebook much lately!! (except when we were on our little family holiday - not many goals on those days, ha ha!) I may as well have banned myself completely - which shows that either my goals have been way too high, or I've previously been wasting way too much time on internet frivolity. Most likely it's probably a combination of the two - giving me future food for thought.

In keeping with Love Life Live Lent, I have also been doing a little something extra for somebody every day - whether it's simply putting a note in the girls lunches, bringing bread to a neighbour or inviting someone over for dinner. Not necessarily big things. But something.

And last, but certainly not least, I have also been following along with a special Lenten Bible study hosted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Revive Our Hearts Radio, using the 31-day devotional book The Incomparable Christ, by J. Oswald Sanders. I jumped on this one pretty late, so I still haven't received my book, but the devotionals have been fantastic even without it. I have really been enjoying this series and am so glad I decided to follow it.

So, in regards to the original question - to Lent is the answer!

Do you observe Lent? If so, what are you doing (or should I say, not doing)?


Kristen said...

I was raised Catholic and while I was always aware that it was lent, I have never officially given up anything for the 40 days. I have considered it but never followed through. At least I can admit it...

This year I considered it but it was already too late. I thought about giving up pop but I don't really drink it anyway. I thought about giving up internet usage but right now the connections that I have made help me through the day. So the excuses go on and on! : )

I liked your cousin's post and have been trying to do something nice everyday too. Recently, I have also been trying to follow a friend's advice who simply told me to be gentle with myself - part of my own forgiveness regarding Georgie. So, that's what I'm doing. I'll just keep doing what I can. : )

Take care,


PS I try to prepare a meatless meal on Friday through lent. That's easy!

Elisa Rush said...

No, I don't do "Lent." The reason is because:

1.) I try to change the things I am convicted of as a lifestyle instead of for just 40 days. For that same reason, I do not participate in New Year's Resolutions either.

2.) I also am not big on Easter, because I celebrate it all year 'round. When Christ's death/burial/resurrection are in the forefront continually, Easter isn't as big of a deal. Although I think Easter's major events (as far as it goes) were more important that Christmas' events, Christmas is a more special season because Christ's birth is rarely mentioned throughout the year.

3.) I consider a time of fasting to be a private matter under the new covenant due to Paul's writings in Colossians and Jesus' words about fasting before men. I believe this to be a change from the Jewish passages about observing certain times as a fast as a rule for the church.

However, I am not saying others cannot feel free to participate or that they shouldn't. That passage in Colossians informs me that I am not to judge what others observe as holidays, either. Other churches that don't focus on Christ's resurrection may need that special preparation, and sometimes it is beneficial to give up something for a season and not as a lifestyle. Each needs to judge for himself how he participates in fasts and holidays. It's not a one-size-fits-all aspect of God's will.

LaughingLady said...

Well, I AM honoured that I've been so inspirational!! ;) I think you and I have developed an iron-sharpening-iron kind of relationship; I've been encouraged and inspired often by your posts and your vision for the Bible blog ~ though I probably haven't said it often enough. (But I say it to God pretty much every Thursday!)

I'm not doing so well on the doing something nice for someone every day lately. Must get back in the saddle!!


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