Tag: Lent

The Discomfort of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, and as evidenced by my “Spring it Up” post on Monday, I’d really prefer to focus on the positive than face my sin and Jesus’ sacrifice.

I’ve shared before and before that I’m pretty much a failure at Lent. Like John says, I’m more of a Christmas than Easter girl. Could we skip over the Lent chapter please?  But there’s no rebirth without death, no salvation without facing my sin, so I continue to try to enter in, to talk to God. This is a repost from a few years ago…

As I mentioned the other day, we’re on vacation in Florida and the other morning we decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service at a lovely little Episcopal Chapel near where we’re staying.

I was on high alert from the moment we entered because I’m not Episcopalian and I was sure I was going to mess up and kneel at the wrong time, or not know the secret handshake that would get me communion, or ask forgiveness for my “debts” instead of my “trespasses”.

I took my cues from a girl across the aisle who clearly knew the liturgical ropes, bowing to the Bible when it went by and making the sign of the cross on her forehead, lips, and heart.  I was fascinated.

Like I said, I’m not Episcopalian and I’m not Catholic either, but by turns throughout my life I have been disdainful towards, curious about, and, in the past five years, enriched by many of  their practices.

When I was growing up all I knew was that the Catholic kids went to St. Petronille for church (named after a guy who must have been on the JV team of saints because I’ve never heard of him since and neither has my husband who did grow up Catholic).  They got to get out of school early on Wednesday to go to Catechism and got to eat fish on Friday.  We never had fish in my family.  So they were special and kind of mysterious to me.

On Wednesday, while I still struggled to own the words of liturgy in a way that was meaningful, I deeply appreciated the silence, the reverence, and the simplicity of a worship gathering full of Scripture.  These guys really do repentance big time!

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about Lent and the question many people ask, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Confession:  As far as I can remember I’ve never given up anything for Lent.

It’s just not been a part of my spiritual tradition.  And frankly, when I have considered it I’ve always thought “Well I could give up Starbucks if I wanted to, but I don’t have to so I won’t.”  I am so not into sacrifice.  I realize this exposes one of the idols I daily pray to relinquish – the idol of comfort.  Ugh!

I know it’s easy to abuse this practice…make it a badge of honor, a “work of righteousness”, an end instead of a means.  But, I’ve been reading about it and I’m wondering if it might be a good spiritual practice for me, identifying with Jesus in some small way, this voluntary sacrifice stuff.  I’m cringing even as I write this.  I find myself thinking, “Could I pick something I like, but don’t like too much?  Kind of ease into this maybe?”

I want to know… What is experience with giving up something for Lent?  Does it help you to see your sin and become more like Jesus?

If you’re reading this on email or on your phone and want to comment, just click on the title and then scroll down!

Couple quotes on Lent…

“Lenten disciplines help us to abstain from the daily distractions that prevent us from seeing and naming reality correctly. As we allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away, we can return to a truer sense of ourselves and a deeper pursuit of God.” Ruth Haley Barton

“Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy.  Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”  Ann Voskamp

 Check out another great article on Lent by Ruth Haley Barton here! 

Why I Don’t Like Lent

Last week was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  I was in Florida and John was in Thailand when he wrote this in an email:

Can I let you in on a secret?  I’m so much more a Christmas guy than an Easter person; I know it sounds sacrilegious, but I love THAT part of the story, cuz of the hope and the joy (and the presents)… And the absence of all that ‘sin talk’ and the beatings, trials abandonments and crosses.

There’s a little scene where the two unlikely heroes of the Lord of the Rings, Sam and Frodo, are hiding and near death, and Sam says, “Do you think think they’ll ever tell our adventure, Mr. Frodo?… ‘Maybe Sam, but this is the part where the children will say, skip this part, Dad, I don’t like this chapter.‘”  I know how Frodo feels, on Ash Wednesday.

My response? Me too, me too, me too!

Lent is the part of the story that is ugly and messy and requires humility and self-examination and I’d really rather avoid both thank you very much. Continue reading

Soul Detox, part 2

Monday I posted on the challenge of of soul detox and specifically, the impact of social media.  For some of you this isn’t relevant and you can stop reading, but many are asking things like:

  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one posts about it has it still fallen ?
  • If I don’t post pictures of all my child’s “firsts” do they still have a chance to get into Harvard or will they be in therapy?
  •  WWJT*
  • How many cat pictures are too many cat pictures?**

This month, Andy Crouch, the editor of Christianity Today wrote: Continue reading

Soul Detox, part 1

So, Lent is over. All of you who have been fasting from chocolate or coffee are celebrating the return of All The Good Things. The season of entering into Jesus’ experience of sacrifice and cross-carrying, to the other side of Easter is over. Dark to Light. Death to Life. Winter to Spring. Vegetables to dessert (How lame are we, right?)

I was a little late to the Lenten party (so to speak), but I shared how I was trying to be intentional about being present to Jesus during Holy Week.

Part of that meant a social media detox – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – and also turning off the radio, because these are things I suspect can distract me from Jesus, and foster a less-than-healthy soul.

I thought it was going to be a terrible, awful, no-good, very boring week.

I was wrong. Continue reading

What are You Noticing This Holy Week?

Are you joining me in fasting from social media, and entering into the last week of Jesus’ life? Great! If not, no worries. Maybe you are doing other meaningful things. I’d love to hear!  My goal has been to make as much space for Jesus as possible. To enter into His death so I can better understand the resurrection.

Here’s the thing…I love the movies with inspiration and uplift, and PROFOUND TRUTH.  I love the big movie music that convinces you there is good in the world and you can be part of it. But the soundtrack to this week so far has been more like The Shawshank Redemption than Rocky.

As I’ve read each day I’ve asked, “Lord, what do you have to show me about Yourself and what do you have to show me about myself?” Additionally, I’ve tried to put myself in the place of the disciples. The thing that strikes me is that the disciples loved Jesus and like kids looking up to a hero, they were anxious to please, but it was so confusing.

Holy Week was confusing because they assumed Jesus’ agenda was their agenda. Just like me.  Here’s some of what I’ve been noticing and asking…

Sunday

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a horse like a conquering military hero (kind of like driving into New York in a Mini Cooper), everyone cheered even though His mode of transportation was weird. They were still hopeful that He was going to be “their guy”.

John Ortberg says,

Palm Sunday represents all the times that we get really excited about Jesus because of what we think He can DO FOR US rather than who He really is, and what He really offers.

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Surrender is acknowledging that there is a God and it is not me.  So most of disciples are wrestling with this confusing process of bringing their agenda in line with Jesus’.

Monday

Jesus curses the fig tree and clears the temple. The fig tree, like me, like many, looks green and healthy from a distance, but up close is not bearing fruit – the true mark of submission and discipleship.  Are we about looking fruitful or actually bearing fruit through the power of Jesus? Where’s the fruit?

photo-84

Tuesday

Each day Jesus leaves Jerusalem and goes out to stay in Bethany with His “home team” – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary, in spite of the confusing events, is in tune enough with Jesus that she quietly anoints Him with expensive perfume.  Do we have a rhythm of engaging and withdrawing? Do we have a community of support and partnership? Is there enough stillness in our life that we are sensitive to the acts of devotion Jesus might ask of us?

Wednesday

It’s possible to be close to Jesus but not give our heart to Him, not bear fruit, not embrace His agenda. Judas wants Jesus for what He can do for him. Judas holds onto his own agenda.

IMG_6375

In our family, both my husband John and I like to drive. We like to be in control. We’ve come to the agreement that I drive during the day and he drives at night, but that’s only because I have night blindness.

I have no depth perception. Things are NOT as they appear to me at night! I had to learn the hard way – accidentally driving through stop lights, over curbs, and getting lost – that I need to surrender the keys at night.

I surrender the keys to John at night because I trust that he sees things more clearly than I do.

When we surrender to God we’re saying “I admit that things may not be as they appear to me. I trust You to know better.”

I can’t surrender my agenda to God unless I trust He has my best interest at his heart.

Those are a few of my thoughts as I’ve read. What is proving to be meaningful to you this Holy Week?

 

Failing Lent

How’s Lent been going for you?  Me? I’m really terrible at it.  My husband majored in Lent, growing up Catholic, but not me. It was never part of our faith tradition, and now it always seems to sneak up on me and all of a sudden it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m stressed about what I should or shouldn’t be doing or giving up, and what the meaning is supposed to be.

Am I supposed to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice or am I supposed to fast from worldly stuff that is sucking the life of Jesus out of me, or am I supposed to pull back to reflect on All Of The Deep Things?

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Those words “should” and “supposed to” float through the air in slow motion like a hand grenade or a heat seeking missile looking for where it can do the most damage. I end up feeling muddled and guilty that I haven’t done it “right”, whatever “right” is.

I can’t find the word “Lent” in my concordance, and certainly not “Thou shalt prepare for Easter by…” But I do think intentional preparation for Easter is a good thing.

I think the idea of Lent is to help us pay attention to God and life and death and resurrection the way it would be good to pay attention to Him all the time – like at 5 o’clock on a July evening when we’re sitting on the patio eating burgers, or on October 3rd in line at the grocery store.

So I’ve muddled through Lent again this year, unlike a young friend I mentor who has fasted from pop (but only brown pop), and sweets (but not on on her birthday or during the week she was in Italy, and chocolate covered almonds don’t count).  I laugh at her, but she says even this has really helped her pay attention and turn to Jesus in the moments she wants things she is sacrificing.

You cannot have resurrection without death.

Continue reading

Doing Easter Better

This weekend I had the privilege of guest posting on the Willow Creek Association blog.  If you’re a ministry leader you may want to check it out here, and take a look at their other resources!

As I write this it’s Easter morning.  Gray, and ugly as most Easters are in Minneapolis. At least it’s not snowing like it has many years.

It’s a little hard to exuberantly declare “He is risen!” when the depressing surroundings aren’t in sync with the joy of the resurrection.  Like Minneapolis didn’t get the memo to put on its Easter finery with bright spring tulips and sunshine and green grass.  Instead we’re still in the death shroud of dirty snow.

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We kiddingly say “Jesus may rise, but in Minneapolis He’s probably like the groundhog – tempted to go back in the grave for six more weeks and come out when the snow has finally melted.”  I know. We probably shouldn’t joke about something as sacred as the resurrection.  But it’s been a very long winter, so give us a little grace please.

Continue reading

What are you giving up for Lent? Or are you giving up Lent?

As I mentioned the other day, we’re on vacation in Florida and the other morning we decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service at a lovely little Episcopal Chapel near where we’re staying.

I was on high alert from the moment we entered because I’m not Episcopalian and I was sure I was going to mess up and kneel at the wrong time, or not know the secret handshake that would get me communion, or ask forgiveness for my “debts” instead of my “trespasses”.

I took my cues from a girl across the aisle who clearly knew the liturgical ropes, bowing to the Bible when it went by and making the sign of the cross on her forehead, lips, and heart.  I was fascinated.

Like I said, I’m not Episcopalian and I’m not Catholic either, but by turns throughout my life I have been disdainful towards, curious about, and, in the past five years, enriched by many of  their practices.

When I was growing up all I knew was that the Catholic kids went to St. Petronille for church (named after a guy who must have been on the JV team of saints because I’ve never heard of him since and neither has my husband who did grow up Catholic).  They got to get out of school early on Wednesday to go to Catechism and got to eat fish on Friday.  We never had fish in my family.  So they were special and kind of mysterious to me.

On Wednesday, while I still struggled to own the words of liturgy in a way that was meaningful, I deeply appreciated the silence, the reverence, and the simplicity of a worship gathering full of Scripture.  These guys really do repentance big time!

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about Lent and the question many people ask, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Confession:  As far as I can remember I’ve never given up anything for Lent.

It’s just not been a part of my spiritual tradition.  And frankly, when I have considered it I’ve always thought “Well I could give up Starbucks if I wanted to, but I don’t have to so I won’t.”  I am so not into sacrifice.  I realize this exposes one of the idols I daily pray to relinquish – the idol of comfort.  Ugh!

I know it’s easy to abuse this practice…make it a badge of honor, a “work of righteousness”, an end instead of a means.  But, I’ve been reading about it and I’m wondering if it might be a good spiritual practice for me, identifying with Jesus in some small way, this voluntary sacrifice stuff.  I’m cringing even as I write this.  I find myself thinking, “Could I pick something I like, but don’t like too much?  Kind of ease into this maybe?”

I know we’re past the kick-off time, but Jesus is all about grace, right?  So even though it wouldn’t be neat and tidy and legal, I could still start something I think.

I want to know… What has your experience been with giving up something for Lent?  Was it a meaningful discipline?

Couple quotes on Lent…

“Lenten disciplines help us to abstain from the daily distractions that prevent us from seeing and naming reality correctly. As we allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away, we can return to a truer sense of ourselves and a deeper pursuit of God.” Ruth Haley Barton

“Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy.  Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”  Ann Voskamp

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