It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lent ? ? ? ?

Why did I title this post as Lent with 4 question marks?

Because I don't understand Lent.

I grew up in a Evangelical church that didn't celebrate Lent. What I knew about Lent could be summed up in this: You aren't supposed to eat meat and you are supposed to give something up like chocolate or tv....Mardi Gras is somehow related and so is eating pancakes and fish....

I am not trying to be funny or disrespectful at all. I am telling you that is all I knew and about how jumbled it was.


The last few years have found me on journey...a journey away from the church I grew up in and closer to the Jesus I longed to know better. Believe it or not...the further away I got from the building and believers I called church for so many years....the more I wanted to and the more I actually did spend time with Him.

In leaving all that I knew about church...I have discovered church. This whole, on-going journey would be like 500 posts that didn't make sense so here is the short version.



I discovered I wasn't as close as I thought that I was to the Shepherd I thought I was following.

Not sure I am that much closer to Him now....I just now realize that I am not that close. But I have a those feelings in a healthy way that make me long to be closer. I no longer struggle with the guilty-I-must-be-doing-something-wrong feelings that made me do more 'stuff'. I spend less time doing 'stuff' instead spend more time praying and more time interacting outside of building referred to as 'church'.

I still don't have a formula to share or a how-to guide for you to follow....because there isn't one. 

That is what I discovered.

I also discovered that people worship and spend time with Him in so many more ways than I had ever been taught or exposed to. Maybe we weren't all made to worship in the same exact way? Maybe the church I attended didn't have a monopoly on the worship/serving Christ thing after all????

So what does that have to do with Lent? 

I am feeling convicted to celebrate Lent and  have just begun the process of learning about it. Not necessarily Lent tied only to the Catholic church (an entity that know even less than Lent about) but rather the idea of purposely setting aside times to prepare and focus on the true significance of Easter.

Tonight as I looked through Pinterest searching under the term lent (yes, not even capitalized) I learned that the time of Lent that I am craving is to many others the very thing I just left - church ritual, how-to-guides, and requirements. Dozens of cheeky pins on guilt and silly rules of Lent.  I understood their authors' sarcasm, frustration, and pain.

Yet, I still desire to participate, at least to some extent, in Lent. I now know that I no longer "have to" do any form of worship or repentance. I need to do what I need to do. I can be inspired and lead by others but it is ultimately my responsibility to seek out what His will is and do it. 




Why this post? 
Well, I process aloud. I need to hear my thoughts or in this case read my thoughts. I need people to lovingly question. I need time to let others share their experiences and wisdom.  If you willingly and seriously participate in Lent, would you please share with me?

4 comments:

  1. I just finished a fictional book series called The Chronicles of the King by Lynn Austin which follows the life of King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, and King Manasseh. The author does an amazing job of following very very closely everything that is in the Bible--but using her God-given talent of creating story to expound on the characters, giving them personalities etc. Anyway--after reading through it and being immersed in Old Testament Judaism for the last 2 weeks or so, I find myself understanding in a new way some of the OT rituals/feasts that before I just thought were odd. I too have been searching out Advent & Lent and some of the other obscure (at least from the churches that I have been in) "rituals" and finding beauty there. We did not participate in Advent last year and I definitely felt like something was missing to my Christmas celebration and hopefully will do a better job preparing this year so I don't miss it. Interested to "hear" what you discover about Lent. I think, for me, it's something about being intentional about the time set aside..it makes it special. Just like when our family makes a huge deal out of our birthdays--that day is especially set aside just for that person. And because of that, everyone acts different towards that person and we all tend to put our "best foot forward" so to speak at least for the day. It's amazing the change that comes over us. I wonder if that's exactly what God intended for the rituals/feasts/festivals--intentional time set aside that would make us stop and think. Not another obligation, not another "have-to" but a want to, a reminder, a slow-down your life and focus on what matters. Remember, remember, remember what He has already done and let that give you the peace that He is working and will continue to work. Oh how forgetful we are!

    Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    ~Shawna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughts! Keep me posted on what/how your family begins some new traditions.

      Delete
  2. I will try to be brief. Please feel free to seek me out for more dialogue. Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. As my wonderful Italian Catholic husband taught me, "giving up" things in Lent is for the purpose of making more space for God. I have given up casual reading on the Web for a couple of years now; and last year added shopping on the Web. I have enjoyed the peace that comes from indulging in such mind-wandering.

    Lent is also about cleansing and purifying yourself, to prepare for Easter. The three key actions are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If I remember correctly, these are the three key cleansing actions from the Old Testament. Jesus discusses these three practices in Matthew 6, as they were common at the time.

    I grew up in the First Christian Church, what I would describe as a very Midwestern brand of Protestant Christianity. I joined the Catholic Church 9 years ago. I would be happy to talk more about that, too.

    By the way, I found you through Ryan and Linda's blog about orphan hosting. I am a Sullivan homeschooling friend.

    Enjoy your journey towards God. It is a great one!

    Carol
    public@avioncella.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to "meet" you, Carol! Sounds like you found Lent as an adult too. Looking forward to corresponding and hearing more. You will hear from me soon. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete