Forty Days

Next Wednesday, February 22 is Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent begins.  The season of Lent is probably the most well-known church season in the secular world.  “Well-known” mostly as a somber time when people give up fun, sweets, or other indulgences.  A time of fish fries when some don’t eat meat on Fridays.  The hangover after Mardi Gras celebrations and perhaps a time of self-discipline.

What does Lent mean to you?

Very simply, Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter, not including Sundays.  Forty is a number that appears several times in the Bible.  Noah and his ark floated on a flooded earth for 40 days.  Moses and the Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert.  Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism.  Lent is a similar time of 40 days of waiting, wandering and readying ourselves to once again renew our commitment to following Jesus - through the bad and through the good.

Do we need to “give up” chocolate or sweets or tv or something to practice a meaningful 40 days in Lent? Maybe, but maybe not.  The whole idea of giving up something was originally a way to find ways to be closer to God, to remove obstacles that get in the way of our relationship with God.  I’m not sure giving up chocolate will help my time with God (or, I’m just rationalizing the need for chocolate in my life!) But I ran across a great list authored by Rev. Craig Gates of Jackson, MS that is a starting point of ideas of what I might give up to make the 40 days of Lent a meaningful time.  It reminds me of the themes Terry Hershey lifted up among us in January.  And, it looks like something I could actually work on that might build some good habits that extend after Easter.

GIVE UP grumbling!  Instead, "In everything give thanks."  Constructive criticism is OK, but "moaning, groaning, and complaining" are not Christian disciplines.

GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed!  Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion.  A few minutes in prayer WILL keep you focused.

GIVE UP looking at other people's worst attributes.  Instead concentrate on their best points.  We all have faults.  It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.

GIVE UP speaking unkindly.  Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding.  It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting or to offer a smile.  Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?

GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything!  Instead, learn the discipline of love.  "Love covers a multitude of sins."

GIVE UP your worries and anxieties!  They're too heavy for you to carry anyway.  Instead, trust God with them.  Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow!  Live today and let God's grace be sufficient.

GIVE UP TV one evening a week!  Instead, visit someone who's lonely or sick.  There are those who are isolated by illness or age.  Why isolate yourself in front of the "tube?"  Give someone a precious gift: your time!

GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself!  Instead, give the money to God.  The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs.  We're called to be stewards of God's riches, not consumers.

GIVE UP judging others by appearances and by the standard of the world!  Instead, learn to give up yourself to God.  There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ.

I hope you will join me in considering this list of things to give up this Lent.  Let me know how it goes and perhaps together this 2012 season of Lent will allow us to grow in our relationships as we Love God and Love People and Serve the World.

God bless you,

No comments (Add your own)

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.