Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

Lent For Non-Lent People

February 10, 2016

Today begins the season that we call Lent. The season traditionally calls for sacrifice, introspection, and focus on God.

I grew up in a family and church that did not really call for much difference after perhaps an Ash Wednesday service. I have a virtual friend, Jon Swanson who writes a very good blog called 300 Words a Day and wrote Lent for Non-Lent People. He comes up with very good questions to ponder during Lent.

Lent points us toward Easter. Christmas gets huge society play as non-christians also celebrate with gift giving, food, and parties.

Easter gets less society play–although the “Easter Bunny” and candy are popular sales items in stores.

Do you give up things for Lent? As a Methodist in a Lutheran town (if you’re from a city you wouldn’t understand, but if you are also from a village, well), we sort of made fun of, or at least chuckled about, what the Lutherans gave up for Lent. I’ll never forget the guy who gave up watermelon. You couldn’t buy a watermelon in February if you wanted it in those days! Then last week I heard about another guy who is giving up watermelon.

That, of course, is not taking the season of life seriously.

I have another friend who gives up his daily can of beer, fried foods, and desserts. He’s in his 80s. He wonders why he feels so good physically during that time and loses up to 15 lbs. (All of which he replaces on Easter Sunday!)

Right now, I’m at a conference. I’m usually very busy during these things, but this year seems to be crazy. Monday I was up at 3 am to catch a 6 am flight from an airport 90 minutes away. I arrived at the site at 11:30 and immediately began meetings which included dinner. Back at my room at 11 pm. Tuesday keynote sessions and meetings non-stop all day. Back at my room at, er, 11 pm. Today, 7 am breakfast meeting, maybe a little break to catch up on writing this morning, and meetings all day.

How do I find 15 minutes to remember God? To ask what he wants of me today? To ask him to help people I know and people I don’t. It recently dawned on me that I could also ask him to help me. No, I can’t do it all alone.

How about you? Have you found time to be alone with God, his word, his companionship? Maybe Lent gives you a good excuse to start.

To Lent or Not To Lent

February 18, 2015

My mind was full of competing thoughts. All were bouncing freely through the brain. There are now three partially written meditations cluttering my computer–and my brain.

Then I noticed that it is Ash Wednesday.

I completely missed Fat Tuesday–Mardi Gras!

Oh, but that is OK. I don’t have to store up all the bad things in order to make it through 40 days of fasting. Among the traditions of my youth, observing Lent was not one that was observed. Most of the kids in my village did. Most were Lutheran, descendents of German-speaking Alsatians who came to America in the 1840s. We (the Methodists) sort of wondered about those Lutherans. Mom said to never marry one.

Mostly when we talked about ritual, we used the term “empty ritual.” This feeling was only strengthened when stories went around about what various people in town gave up for Lent. My favorite was the guy who gave up watermelon every year. Of course, we wouldn’t see any watermelon for another six months! Talk about empty.

We also didn’t have church and get ashes. Didn’t have a clue about that.

Someone just tried to define a ritual as something we do to change God, while a practice is something we do to work on ourselves. But I know many who gain great spiritual comfort from the traditions of ritual. That is not a bad thing.

It is good to set aside time to reflect on Easter. That is the single day/single act that sets us aside from all others. The day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. He was alive. He was hope in person.

It was good to be reminded. I need reminders.

If you give up something, do it wisely and reverently. I have a friend who gives up fried food, desserts, and (hardest of all) beer every year for Lent. He loses 15 pounds. But then comes Easter 😉 But he does it out of reverence for the season. He’s 85. Has been doing this for at least 20 years. It reminds him of why we have Lent.

What will we do in remembrance?