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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (March 2015)

posted Mar 6, 2015, 10:38 AM by Russell D. Hampton

February 18 begins the season of Lent with the observance of Ash Wednesday.  Lent is the 40 day long liturgical season of repentance, prayer, penance almsgiving, and fasting prior to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Day (April 5 this year).   The forty days of Lent represent important Biblical stories – like the forty days and nights of the Great Flood in Genesis or the forty years God’s people walked the desert to the Promised Land or the forty days Jonah gave to Nineveh to repent or be destroyed. For most of us, however, the forty days of Lent represent Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness where he fasted, was tempted by the devil, and overcame these temptations.   

During Lent, many of us have our own fasting traditions or disciplines.  Some people simply “give something up” (like sweets, chocolate, soda, social media, watching TV, etc.). Others might give something up in order so they can increase their time or giving in another area of life (“I gave up social media so I can focus more on prayer” or “I gave up soda and plan to give the money I would normally spend to a hunger ministry”).  Still others might take on a new spiritual discipline or resume one that has fallen to the wayside (like structured prayer or fasting).  What tradition or discipline will you do this Lent?  Is this tradition or discipline for your own benefit?  Or, are you doing them to center yourself on God and God’s relationship with you?

I know that every year I attempt to “give something up.”  Over the years I have tried to give up procrastination, chocolate, and sweets.  I tend to fall off the bandwagon within three days.  In other years I have attempted the route of giving something up in order to devote my time or giving to another area of life.  Again, the giving up part doesn’t always work, but I tend to increase my time and giving during this period.  Yet, I too, need to answer the above questions. Are these disciplines for my own benefit or do they center me on God?  Another question I will include: Do you learn anything from these practices that you keep with you until the following Lenten season?  

Lenten disciplines and practices are great.  However, I think they should lead us to grow our relationship with God, to nurture our calling to following Jesus, and to lead us to love one another.  So whether your discipline is fasting (i.e., “giving something up”), devotion to prayer, acts of love toward neighbor (or almsgiving), time in repentance, or a combination of any of these, think about how your discipline or practice is developing your relationship with God and the community of faith.  

In Christ,

Pastor Maureen

Prayer: Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bless our efforts and join our hearts both in church and out of church, that we may find you ever near us, to heal and to help, to glory of your name.  Amen. 

 

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