Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lent 2009 - what's happening this year.....

I shared the following post on a Facebook discussion board talking about what people are doing for Lent this year and how it's going. I'm trying to post more frequently on this blog, so I figured I'd use the same post. Not sure it that's cheating, but figured chances are good that not too many of the same people read both.

During most of my childhood Lent held no real significance. I grew up Methodist and if any of the pastors or churches encouraged us to any kind of action or self-reflection or sacrifice I was not paying any attention. Then one day my best friend in high school - who was and still is Catholic - asked me what I was giving up for Lent. This was a completely foreign concept to me, so she gladly explained Lent to me from her perspective. Then she asked me again - "Well, now that you know what it is, what are you giving up?" I tried to get out of it by saying that Protestants don't have to do stuff like that for Lent. She refused to let me off the hook by telling me that my denomination didn't matter. If I loved God like I claimed I did I should be willing to show it in some significant way for what is really a very small period of time. I remember thinking somewhat irreverently that God might have chosen to give me a best-friend who was Methodist - would that have been too much to ask? So, I ended up using her example of giving up chocolate for what remained of Lent.

Since then my personal observance has been rather sporadic - although I did start noticing that my churches actually did encourage some kind of participation in Lent. And then a few years ago my own high school age daughter asked me what we should do for Lent. Must be something about those teen years. We decided to give up soda pop. After all it's really not that good for us anyway and we would just avoid buying any with our groceries. Unfortunately, we went on a trip for Spring Break and broke down about the 4th day of eating out and not ordering a coke. It was a great disappointment to both of us.

Last year was a rough one because instead of giving up something I decided to add something. I decided that for Lent I was going to attend worship every Sunday. Our church had been through some very rough experiences in the past few years. My family had been through some challenges during the same time. I still lead my adult Sunday school class, but that was the extent of my Sunday morning participation. For someone who had lived most of her life attending church faithfully every Sunday this was a significant lapse. Our church has three different services on Sunday morning, too, so it wasn't like I had a good excuse either. After almost a year of managing to skip worship God finally was not letting me off the hook. It was probably the best experience during Lent I've ever had because it brought me back into honest fellowship with my church family whom I love very, very much. And it brought me to a closer relationship with God-whom I also love very, very much. And that, I believe, is supposed to be part of our Lenten experience.

This year seems somewhat anti-climatic compared to last year, but I found a list on the www.umc.org website inside an article on called "Lent 101." I'm trying to do #2 on the list which is to say a prayer every time I check my email - which is probably far too often, but I work at a computer all day and it is easily accessible!! So far, it's going pretty well. I find myself stopping to think after I've looked at my email if I remembered to pray or not. If not then I try to take a minute and do it then. It's been a neat way to keep my focus off of just me during the day. These prayers have also helped to keep me in close conservation with God which certainly can't hurt either.

Thanks for letting me share!

In Christ,

Kathy S.
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