Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten Journey 2009

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the lenten season. For the past few years, I've made it a point to attend an Ash Wednesday service (one year I also led one!) and take time to reflect and recieve ashes. It's pretty wild the reaction many people have to a person having ashes on their head.

So why do I do it? Well, it has to do with the roots of the tradition. The idea of Ash Wednesday is to be intentional for at least one season of the year about taking careful examination of your life. It's kind of like this. If you are a Christian, in theory you spend time daily examining your life for blind spots and seeking to draw closer to Christ. In reality, we get distracted, and although many people have a daily devotional life, we rarely take time to examine our lives closely to see where we might be able to follow Christ more closely, and stop following the world.

So I like lent for that reason. Lent gives me a 50 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter to examine my life and to focus on denying areas of sin, to be intentional about changing heart and mind, and to identify with the suffering and denial of Jesus while He was in the wilderness.

Some people give up habits and others add devotional habits, but always, the purpose and goal of these fasts and habits is to draw us closer to Jesus. If sweets or TV draw you away from Jesus, maybe taking a break from these habits for 50 days would be a good idea.

It usually takes about a month to build or break a habit, so the lenten season can be about breaking bad habits or building good habits.

By the way, the word lent or lenten refers to the lengthening of days that happens in the Spring. So the lenten season is the season of lengthening days.

So you are probably wondering what I'm giving up. Right now, I think I'm going to stop buying beverages. I may drink a variety of beverages during lent, but I think I'm going to stop buying. Then I think I'm going to take the money I save by not buying drinks and I'm going to donate it to Nuru International for some of their water projects. Did you know that 1 out of 6 people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water.

Also, my roommates and I have talked about trying to eat more meals at home and together. We have a cupboard full of canned food and lots of meat frozen, and enough rice and corn meal to sustain us for months. Maybe we will take some of the money we save and donate it as well.

Lastly, I have a couple of devotionals I picked up and haven't quite made it through yet. So my lenten commitment has to do with both denying myself some good things to draw closer to Christ, and adding some habits that will allow me to intentionally spend more time in His presence.

So what about you? Have you made a lenten commitment yet? I'd love to hear more about it. Will you leave it as a comment on here. (Then the other readers of this blog can be praying for you--and I can too!)


BigMama said...

One of the things that I miss the most about my more mainstream upbringing is the attention to the church calendar and things like advent & lent.

Personally, I've been using Facebook as a cheap substitute for real relationships. So I'm taking a break from that for Lent. I'm going to try to use the time that I spend there working on better organizing my free time.

I will be praying for your during this Lenten season!

Michelle said...

This year for Lent, I'm reversing my estrangement from God. I have become so distanced this past school year, and I want to go back. So, there's no better time than Lent to work on a problem like that. Thanks for observing with me.