Wednesday, February 10, 2010

pre-Lenten Reflections

At the last Staff Seminar training I was at for my campus ministry job, I bought a book called Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross. As is my custom, I had more books than I could read at one time, and never got around to reading past the foreword. It's arranged, naturally, by the Christian year, and every time I thought about beginning it we were in the middle of a season. But Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday, and today I had some extra time to sit down and read through that section.

The traditional 40-day period of Lent reflects long biblical fasts by the likes of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Catholics typically give up meat during Lent, but in my Protestant upbringing, people abstained from a variety of things including chocolate, pop, sex, gossip, coffee, ice cream, etc. Thinking about what I might give up this year left me feeling shallow, because what could I possibly give up that would compare to the sacrifice that Jesus made for me? But Gross's notes helped me to remember the benefits that humbly choosing sacrifice during Lent can have.

We adopt practices that help to sharpen our spiritual awareness. Through prayer and Scripture meditation, moral inventory and behavior changes, fasting/abstinence, and generosity/service, we open ourselves up to receive God's grace and blessing.
I also liked the idea that during Lent, we revisit the declarations we made during our baptism: we renounce satan and all evil powers and sinful desires, we trust in the grace of Jesus Christ our Savior, and we follow him as Lord.
(summarized from p. 128)

How can I put those ideas into practice? My roommate and I decided to do "Frugal February," a month where we cut out all unnecessary shopping and basically only buy gas and groceries. I think I'll continue that through the end of Lent as a part of my fast. I've begun reading through John, so I'll focus on that during Lent in addition to any other reading I might do. I'm also considering doing a day-long juice fast on Ash Wednesday, Fridays during Lent, and Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday. And I hope that through that process, I will be able to reaffirm the declarations from my baptism: I renounce satan and all evil powers and sinful desires, I trust in the grace of Jesus Christ my Savior, and I follow him as my risen Lord!

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