As I have been trying to prepare myself for our Ash Wednesday Service this evening, I have also been preparing for Lent. I have never participated in Lent, mostly because I never took the time to educate myself on exactly what this season of our Liturgical calendar meant. Here is a quick description of what Lent is from a friend of mine who is a pastor in Tennessee. I followed the quote a link to his blog if you are interested in a further explanation of Lent. He writes:
"Lent is a 40 day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (not including Sundays). The season before Easter was from the earliest days of Christian faith celebrated as a time in which Christians would fast and increase their practices of the spiritual disciplines. It has, from those earliest times, been a season in which Christians draw nearer to God in order to be ready to celebrate the Resurrection." Jerrod McCormack, from his blog, http://halflyreformed.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/a-faithful-lent-in-a-modern-age/ .
This is such a special time as we prepare to suffer with the Cross and then celebrate with resurrection. I think that as we press into the heart of God, it cannot be done without spiritual disciplines. Yes prayer is good, but scripture reminds us that even it is most powerful when coupled with other disciplines. So why have so many people missed out on this amazing journey? Why have I missed out on 26 years of it? It is a season of surrender, repentance, denial to be apathetic, discipline, seeking, and reward. I am looking forward to seeing what mysteries God chooses to share with me, and seeing my own faith deepened. For the past few months I have felt tired, worn down, and simply deserted. I know that is not the truth, but it is how I have felt. So I am looking forward to trying something new that I know will produce the fruit that I have been longing to produce.
So, what I am I doing for Lent? I am going to be participating in our church Lenten offering where we will be giving up our favorite beverages. They money that we would normally use to buy these drinks, we will save and present it as an offering on Easter morning. Also, we will save any loose change and bring it as well. It is called Cups for Kenya. We will take the offering and give it to aid a woman named Esther. She lives in Kenya and raises orphans. We believe that God cares for the widows and the orphans, and that it is close to His heart. Therefore, we want to honor what He honors.
For my own personal journey, I will be living off of rice and vegetables. There is a world-wide epidemic of starving people. In effort to raise awareness for the real issues of hunger, I will be limiting my food intake to that of what most of the people in the world eat. There are a few people who are participating in the same effort but even more radical than mine. When asked why not just give money to a food program, the answer is quite simple. We can have more compassion for those who are suffering whenever we have been in that same place. To truly understand that hunger in this world is a real problem, then maybe I need to put down that steak, hamburger, chips, candy bar, insert your favorite food here. God has the utmost compassion for us because He knows and has suffered as we have, even greater. I will also be incorporating other various disciplines into my daily routine.
I share all of this to encourage you as you make this journey. Easter is a season of such sorrow, joy, sins, and resurrection. It is a marriage of the harlot and the rich man who deems her worthy of all that he has. Join me as God deems each one of us worthy of being His bride. He calls us chosen and beloved. Let us rejoice as we turn our face from the shame of our sin to the rejoicing of our acceptance. Shalom be with you.
Some blogs that you may want to follow if you are interested in reading more about Lent or Stop Hunger Now are listed below.