Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking Off and Taking On

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten Season in the Christian church. For those of you who are less informed about the Christian faith, or who just want more info on the season of Lent and traditions associated with it, please select this link for a some great info regarding Lent.

As you read in that post, Lent is honored over 40 days to represent the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. The 40 days are often counted excluding the Sundays (which are celebrated in honor of the resurrection) and so the season begins with today: Ash Wednesday, when men and women all over the world recieve "the imposition of ashes" (the little ash cross on their foreheads) to represent the way that men and women mourned during bible times - by tearing their clothes, putting on sack-cloth (like burlap, I think) and putting ashes on themselves. It is a representation of sacrifice and loss.

Men and women also often give up something of value to them, and also often take on some sort of spiritual discipline.

There have been many Lenten seasons in my life when I have not given up anything. I used to rebel against any type of liturgy or tradition that I felt was legalistic. But in the past few years, I have developed a more graceful approach to liturgical traditions, and developed a love for the practices of the ancient church. There is something neat about participating in traditions that have existed for hundreds of years.

Lets face it. I often also did not sacrifice because I didn't want to give something up. But now I try to put it in better perspective. Whatever I am giving up, is only for 40 days - and I get to indulge on Sundays! When I compare my puny sacrifice to Christ's sacrifice for me, it is worth it to give up something.

That being said, I have a list of things I could give up, but I have also been taken with the idea of not just giving up something, but taking on a spiritual discipline in its place. By taking on a discipline, hopefully my sacrifice is a real concerted effort to include God in my life more.

This year I have decided to give up my snooze alarm for Lent. I have realized that lately more and more I have been snoozing for multiple times and losing time in the morning. It makes it more difficult for me to have my quiet time, and I can feel my discipline lacking.

I am going to take on prayer walking. My plan is that in the mornings I will get up and have my quiet time and then prayer walk around my big block.

I'm really looking forward to these 40 days (which I am actually starting tomorrow, because I didn't make my decision until this morning's quiet time). My prayer is that the Lord would be more and more present within my life and through my life into the lives of others.

I pray that if you are making a Lenten sacrifice or adding on a spiritual discipline, that you would be blessed through your experience and God would be glorified.