Friday, March 03, 2006

Lent: FBC-Styled

I got this e-mail from my church regarding Lent and some of the ways to observe it:

Dear Friends,

Is an awareness of the seasons of the church year of significance for you? If so, you will know that we are now in the season called “Lent.”

Lent is a 40-day period before Easter (not counting the Sundays). It begins with a day called “Ash Wednesday” which, for our present year, was this past Wednesday, March 1.

Lent calls us to a time of reflection and prayer. It is a time to consider our sins and to more deeply celebrate the Love that forgives our sins. Much as Advent prepares us to celebrate the Love of Christ’s birth, Lent prepares us to celebrate the Love of his resurrected life.

Lent is a very personal experience. It is traditionally marked by an individual’s focused time with God. It offers opportunities for self-examination and repentance. It is a time to consider anew who we are in God.

As we journey together through this Lenten season, acts you might consider are:

1. Commit to a quiet time with God each day during this 40-day period. Use this time to be still with God. Just listen to what He wants to say to you.

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.

2. Put a cross in your home or workplace in a location that causes you to see it see it each day – in a way that you are not accustomed to seeing it. Putting it in a new place can help you to see it with new eyes.

3. Use this time to examine your spiritual growth. Have you grown spiritually since this time last year? Is there something you need to change in your life to help nurture your spiritual growth?

4. Commit to a daily devotional during these 40 days. The one I am experiencing, along with many others in the church, is found online at
www.d365.org/

5. If there are children in your home, know that our Childhood Ministries Office has provided a Devotional Guide to be used by families during the Lenten season. They are available for you on the table in the hallway outside the Childhood Ministry Office.

As you make this Lenten journey, I would love to hear from you about stirrings in your heart as you respond to God’s call on your life. Are there needs in your life we can help to meet? Are you being called to serve in some way? Let me know how through the church we can best support you in your service to Him.

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As I've stated, we're a Baptist church, and observing Lent for us may not be like observing it for you or your church. However, I am interested to know what people are doing in observance of the forty days of Lent. Usually, to be frank, I do nothing different.

From my highly questionable listening and reading skills, some of the ways I've either heard or read what different people or different churches are doing (or usually do) are:

-- Giving up some "vice" (chocolate, TV, Internet, etc.)
-- Giving up something dietary other than sweets (usually meat)
-- Reading the Bible daily or having daily devotionals (and not missing any)
-- Refocusing on God's love and praying and praising more often
-- Fasting
-- Some sort of local mission work

I know my list is missing a whole lot, but maybe you can help me add to it. Are any of you out there doing something different for Lent than you regularly do? Does your church do something different? How does your church view and observe Lent, and are there rituals observed each year during the forty-day period?

For me, if anything this year, I'd like to be more reflective on Christ's life and sacrifice, which means spending time, which is definitely at a premium for me (in my dysfunctional mindset of my little world), dwelling on Him. Not just in my car riding or walking and trying to think about Him as I go through each day. Actually scraping out some time before my body is totally sleep-deprived and I'm nodding off at the computer, and just contemplating Christ. I don't do it close to enough. In fact, I don't do it that much at all. Maybe Lent would be a good way to redirect my mindset to something that hopefully will stick with me long after this Lent is over. I guess that might fall loosely under some of the items my church suggested.

I wish everyone a joyful and meaningful Lent and look forward to Easter morn, the day we celebrate the Resurrection, which for me, means everything.



3 comments:

codepoke said...

Wow. Yours is the second of the two blogs I really read to reference Lent. I feel so ignorant.

I have always been an iconoclast, so I guess this should not be a surprise to me. Lent has always just been a Catholic rite to me, and not a Christian thing at all.

Thanks for the post.

WandaV said...

Hi.

Our church (also Baptist) doesn't do anything for Lent, either. I have heard of churches other than Catholic who do something called "40 days of Purpose". Anyone heard of it?

On a humorous note, I had a Catholic friend once who told me he gave Catholicism up for Lent. Hmmm.

Wanda

Rich said...

Lent has always just been a Catholic rite to me, and not a Christian thing at all.

I've heard a lot of Christians make this point. Of course, it isn't only Catholics who observe the season. Episcopalians, Orthodox, Presbyterians, and Lutherans also observe it. And now, my Baptist church as you can see. But we have a big Advent season, and Holy Week (a part of Lent) is huge, too.

Obviously, the standard line is going to be that we should always, every day, be seeking Christ and to glorify Him. Saying that one Holy Week or 40 days of Lent are a time to "really focus" means that the other 325 days of the year aren't as important. To some degree, I agree with that. However, because we're human beings, I think it's very difficult to "always" do something. If we can focus on something for a short period of time, our ability for success in that endeavor increases exponentially. Not only that, but if you can manage to do "it" for a while -- a lot of pyschologists like to say a month -- then whatever you're practicing for that period has a much better chance of intergrating itself into your life permanently. I can see that, too.

Like with most things, the state of our heart in the observation means everything.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Wanda,

I'm familiar with the 40 days of purpose and The Purpose-Filled Life book. I know our church went through it, but I didn't join in. I haven't read Rick Warren's book, but I have family members who have.

As far as the content, I've heard very mixed reviews. Some have really loved it and what it has done for them, and I know a lot of people really don't think it's a great thing for churches to be doing.

Since I haven't read it, I'll withhold any type of opinion.