During February we will enter into the holy season of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays, which are each a little Easter) leading up to Easter where we are invited to join Jesus in the desert to pray and fast. It is traditional to fast during Lent. The nature of that fast can vary widely, it can include giving up one or more foods on certain days or during the entire season, it could also mean giving up some other comfort, habit or practice. In Lents past I have given up a variety of things, such as soda (pop for the native Minnesotans), beer, meat, chocolate, and Facebook. If you choose to fast during Lent feel free to be creative in what you give up, but try to give up something that will present some level of challenge for you.
If fasting is not something you feel you can do at this time or if you are looking for another practice in addition to your fasting consider what has been traditionally called almsgiving (aka giving to the needy or to a charity). The practice of almsgiving reminds us that all we have really belongs to God and we are but stewards to which it is entrusted. The goal of almsgiving is not to bankrupt ourselves, but if you give an amount that is hard for you to let go of or makes you wince a little when you drop it in the panhandler’s cup or stick the check in the mail you are giving in a way that will help you grow into the generosity that God calls us all to live in. If you feel called to give alms this Lent, but don’t feel you can give money consider if you have time to volunteer, either at church or with another organization in the community.
Lent however is not just about giving up, whether you fast from coffee or give more money to charity, it is also about taking on. The practice we are called to take on during Lent is prayer. It is truly the addition of extra/extended prayer that is the most rewarding Lenten practice, it is the practice that gives life to the other practices of fasting and almsgiving. Taking on extra time for prayer in Lent helps us (re)connect to God and ground ourselves in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life. This extra prayer could look like adding evening prayer to your day in addition to the morning prayer you already practice, it could look like spending time in prayer with others as well as praying alone, it could be as simple as intentionally taking time each day to pray if you aren’t doing so currently. The great thing about prayer is it is flexible and molded easily to fit different lifestyles and schedules. One opportunity for extra prayer during Lent is to come join me on Wednesdays starting on Ash Wednesday through the Wednesday of Holy week in the sanctuary at 10am for a brief time of morning prayer. I’ll be there at 10 to pray regardless of who shows up, so if your schedule allows I’d love for you to join me in prayer.
The most important thing to remember is that all these practices are meant to help us be and become who God has made us to be, so with that in mind I’ll leave you with these words from the Rev. Heidi Haverkamp. "It’s a radical choice to see and value your life in the way God does, that our being is more important than our doing. That doesn’t mean that our doing isn’t important at all but that the quality of our being is the foundation of our doing."
Peace of Christ,