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Lent is upon us. I can think of at least four ways to “do” Lent. I’d encourage you to avoid doing three of them.
The first way is just not to take it very seriously at all. I knew one wag who every Lent gave up . . . watermelon! While he invariably drew a chuckle, the fact is he also communicated that he’d get absolutely nothing out of Lent; that he’d not grow at all between Ash Wednesday and Easter. I want you to get something out of Lent!
The second way to see Lent is as a season of penitence. While there’s good ecclesiastical and historical precedence for this, I’m less and less convinced that God is that concerned about most of what we think of as our sinfulness. If there’s some serious wrong that you’ve committed and which besets your soul, then I encourage you to contact one of our
And please know you can talk
But what if there’s no particular sin besetting your soul? We all of us, every single day of our lives, do little things we know we ought
Christianity is about so very much more than what Richard Rohr calls “sin management”. Christianity is about transformation – about resurrection! That goes far beyond managing our little temptations.
And that brings me to the third way I hope you won’t observe Lent. Lent is not simply a time of
That brings me to the fourth way, the way I hope you’ll observe Lent. Think of Lent as a time of preparing to be transformed, of preparing to be resurrected with Christ. As the Apostle Paul put it, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:19-20)
What if Lent is a time in which we prepare to walk in newness of life by actually practicing walking in newness of life? Fasting is a good thing to do. Jesus prescribes and expects it! (Cf., Matthew 6:16-18) And certainly confessing one’s sin and one’s sinfulness is a good thing to do. I encourage both!
But what if you used Lent, not as a season to give up something, but as a season to take on something - a new practice which lends itself to spiritual renewal and rebirth, a practice you can continue after Easter as part of a daily regimen of seeking to improve your conscious contact with God? Perhaps you could take on daily morning and evening prayer, or you might set aside 20 or 30 minutes a day for centering prayer (there’s a plethora of literature on it). You might undertake daily Bible reading. There are some fantastic programs out there that will take you through the entire Bible in a year.
Here’s my basic point: rather than seeing Lent as a time of sorrow I suggest we see it as a time of preparation for being transformed, for being thoroughly overwhelmed by the sheer depth and scope of a God who loves us so much that he gave His very life for us, a life which He now offers us as ours for eternity!