To Lent or not to Lent, that is the Question

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After spending the evening watching the Grammys and tweeting my snarky thoughts, last night my dreams were in Tweet format.  Needless to say it was a long night. And when I woke this morning I was more than a little disturbed by it.

I got to thinking about technology’s power in my life.

Earlier this week, I read an article by Albert Borgmann on the subject of Taming Technology. For Borgmann, philosophy is a way of taking up the questions that live at the center of everyday life — questions that are urgent but often inarticulate. The philosophy of technology, which has been the principal focus of his work since the mid-1970s, is about bringing to light and calling into question the technological shape and character of everyday life.  How do we gather technological devices together into the good life?  How does technology shape a way of life?  It is an interesting article.  You should read it.

Lent is coming.

For Christians, the 40 days (plus Sundays) of Lent — the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday — is a time for reflection, renewal, and rededication.

But Lent has been a part of the Church life from the 2d Century on, and it’s a discipline and a season worthy of the entire Church. What is Lent? Essentially it is a time of preparation. As during Advent we prepare to celebrate the Advent of our Lord, so during Lent we prepare to enter in and participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is a time for us to recollect our minds and hearts toward the saving events of our faith. The Church Calendar is designed to keep our lives connected week by week to the life of Jesus. — Scot McKnight

I’ve written about Lent before and have some links below. Many Christians don’t participate in Lent or take it lightly; perhaps giving up chocolate or caffeine as way of depriving ourselves.  But  Julie Clawson author of Everyday Justice and blogger at One Hand Clapping says about this most misunderstood event: “Lent isn’t about denial, it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ’s sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ like ourselves. ”  (Emphasis mine.)  I could not agree more.

In preparing for Lent, I sometimes ask myself:

  • Is there a habit (or even a sin) in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of my loving God or loving others?  Ask God to get a hold of that habit over the next 40 days and help you have the discipline to give it to him, forever. 
  • Is there any one in my life with whom I need to pursue forgiveness or reconciliation?  This may take longer than Lent.  Here is a poem that I wrote during a time of profound grieving, knowing that I had done and said something that I thought was unforgivable. It’s titled  Longing for Mercy.  Ask God to begin to work in you and in the other person to ready you both for reconciliation in God’s perfect timing. 
  • What am I willing to give up to carve out extra time for daily contemplation and listening for the season of Lent?  
  • Lent begins  next week, on Ash Wednesday, leaving time to ask God to show you what you need to stop doing to have more time with him.  

I’m seriously considering letting go of Facebook for Lent.  It often makes me anxious and confused and I wonder about its power over my mind and heart.  Could I just let it fly away into the abyss  of cyberspace for forty days and see what other more meaningful things I can fill it up with?  I don’t know yet.

A Pastoral Word from Dr. Mark D. Roberts:

Let me note, at this point, that if you think of Lent as a season to earn God’s favor by your good intentions or good works, then you’ve got a theological problem. God’s grace has been fully given to us in Christ. We can’t earn more of it by doing extra things or by giving up certain other things in fasting. If you see Lent as a time to make yourself more worthy for celebrating Good Friday and Easter, then perhaps you shouldn’t keep the season until you’ve grown in your understanding of grace. If, on the contrary, you see Lent as a time to grow more deeply in God’s grace, then you’re approaching Lent from a proper perspective.

 This is a good reminder.  What about you?  Do you take part in Lent and if so how has this been a powerful event in your life? Or not?

MH

A clear and powerful description of Lent  by Dr. Mark D. Roberts , Senior Adviser and Theologian in Residence of Foundations for Laity Renewal, in the Hill Country of Texas outside of San Antonio.

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Other things I’ve written on Lent:

Though Mayest in Me Behold

A prayer for Lent

Lenton Series: Winter Slowly Receeds

Lenton Series: If you Were Homeless


On Putting the Dark and the Light Together

I  find it so interesting that Moses “when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” (Hebrews 11:24 ESV)

I see that as choosing to take on the identity of  being one of God’s people, before his other human identity.   I choose that too.

It is a daily choosing.

Just as a good friend pointed out, being in the 12-steps (code-word for addiction recovery program)  involves being able to admit every day your broken state.  For me that is being an alcoholic.  It it necessary for your recovery and for survival.  Staying sober means admitting your powerlessness.   But can be a way to label yourself.  And it doesn’t create the space for allowing God to rename you, reshape you, even change and heal you, to transform and redeem.

I am rigid and ornery, prone to perfectionism.  Hard on others.  Even harder on myself.  I am a person that doesn’t like to be perceived as weak and is oh, so mean to myself!  How that fits with all of this I do not know completely except that it fits with my revisiting old pain, old narrative, old Story.  I have lived with naming my shaming for years.

But this is false, a false modesty and a false humility.

So says Richard Rohr, that incredible friar who wrote Falling Upward ( I have to admit I have not read this wonderful book, recommended by so many people I respect.  It’s on my to read list! ) But I get his emails.

I opened my inbox today and read this:

“All-or-nothing reformations and all-or-nothing revolutions are not true reformations or revolutions. Most history, however, has not known this until now. When a new insight is reached, we must not dismiss the previous era or previous century or previous church as totally wrong. It is never true! We cannot try to reform things in that way anymore.

“This is also true in terms of the psyche. When we grow and we pass over into the second half of life, we do not need to throw out the traditions, laws, boundaries, and earlier practices. That is mere rebellion and is why so many revolutions and reformations backfired and kept people in the first half of life. It is false reform, failed revolution, and non-transformation. It is still dualistic thinking, which finally turns against its own group too.

“So do not waste time hating mom and dad, hating the church, hating America, hating what has disappointed you. In fact, don’t hate anything. You become so upset with the dark side of things that you never discover how to put the dark and the light together, which is the heart of wisdom, all love, and the trademark of a second half of life person. Maybe that is why we blessed the candles on this day, right in the middle of winter.

“You become so upset with the dark side of things that you never discover how to put the dark and the light together, which is the heart of wisdom, all love, and the trademark of a second half of life person.”

Here’s to living in the Light!