Some of you who know me well are wondering why this Southern Baptist girl is observing Lent. While many of you think of Lent as “Catholic” tradition, you should know that many non-Catholics find wonderful meaning in observing this season. So in an effort to “explain,” I wanted to share a few quotes I came across today. Hopefully they will help any of you who are wondering, to understand just how meaningful this time can be for your life and your relationship with our God.
“During Lent, Christians are encouraged to focus their energy on three disciplines: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (sharing our gifts with the poor). The extra time spent praying during Lent can lead us closer to God. During Lent we are encouraged to focus our prayer on the places in our lives and in our world that need improvement. Our fasting isn’t about denying ourselves as a sort of punishment, and it isn’t even about food. We fast from television, food, video games, computers, and other simple everyday indulgences so we can literally hunger for God. Our fasting also puts us in touch with those whose hunger is never filled because they live in poverty. Finally, our praying and fasting lead us to action.” ~Tony Alonso, Return to the Lord: Praying and Living Lent.
“Lent is not intended to be an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. It is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges.”
“Put another way, Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose, unless by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart’s deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him–in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph–we find our truest joy.” ~Dorothy Sayers, Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and East.
During this season of Lent, our family will be using this Lenten study guide published by World Vision as our guide. It’s entitled, “A Call to Live.” This guide invites us to “journey through the six weeks of Lent through reflection, prayer, celebration, and engagement in the ministry and life of Christ.” Each week has a theme:
Week one: A Call to Live Simply
Week two: A Call to Live Humbly
Week three: A Call to Live Generously
Week four: A Call to Live Compassionately
Week five: A Call to Live Creatively
Week six: A Call to Live Fully
Week one begins the first Sunday of Lent. For this year, that is February 21. The days between Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday are spent preparing for the next 6 weeks by learning about the global food crisis.
Tomorrow, Ben and I will make a “Living Simply Jar,” where for the next 6 weeks money will be collected to give to a charity, perhaps World Vision, to help with the global food crisis. Then each week, we will learn more about this crisis and how we, as followers of Christ, are called to help. I’ll be sharing more about all of this along the way. So stay tuned.