Friday, February 12, 2010

How do we approach the season of Lent?

When I was a kid, Lent was a very disciplined season in the church calendar. By this I mean that we had an obligation to give up something that we really enjoyed and to stick with that throughout the 40 days. If we backslided, it was an unforgivable sin. If we backslided, that mean that we really didn't love God. It almost seemed that failing to follow through on what you had given up was very close to the sin of murder. Everybody watched you to make sure that you did give up whatever you said you were going to give up for the entire time. Talk about Big Brother watching you, he did during Lent. I never understood what the big deal was about Lent.
Thank goodness the thinking about Lent has changed. First of all there is an explanation of what Lent is all about. I teach third religious education and my approach to Lent is alot kinder and gentler. I think that it important to emphasize that we are anticipating receipt of a great gift. The fact that Jesus died for us is the reason for the season. It is more important to do something rather than giving up something, especially when we will probably give up something that is for our own benefit. the emphasis is on service to others, just as Jesus was always about service to us. He healed and forgave us, even those who put him to death. In gratitude for that great gift of his live, is it not fitting for us to give back. The giving should not be a "have to", but instead, a "want to". We should give with joy, not with sorrow.
Some may not like my idea of Lent, feeling that there can be no joy in the death of Jesus. However, I don't think that is the way Jesus wants it. Also, the all or nothing approach is not necessary. If we plan to do something, and do not succeed, we can always try again for our failure is not forever. That is the beauty of Lent. It must be a time to remember love, compassion, and forgiveness. It is a time to reflect on the blessings we have been given by God and to remember to give something back by being of service to others. There are no harsh judgements, for Jesus made no judgements.

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

So what will you do for Lent?

Peace and love,

"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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