Think on These Things: Lent season is here

Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) preceding Easter, the day of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ after his death on the cross

During the last while you may have heard a number of people talking about what they’ve given up for Lent – and sometimes I think that our society forgets, or never fully knew what that was all about. Right now we’re about one-half of the way through Lent in the Christian story and season. Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) preceding Easter, the day of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ after his death on the cross.

Many folks, even those who don’t celebrate the Christian story, appreciate what Easter gives us today – three- or four-day weekends, the fun story of the bunny and lots of chocolate. However, the Season of Lent is also known for the historical practice of denying of selfish and “giving things up” for those 40 days.

The practice was to begin Lent by getting rid of all of the fat and flour, etc. in the house – which is why we often still begin with a pancake supper on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) just before those 40 days begin. Many people began to continue the practice by also getting rid of those things that they really liked: sugar, chocolate, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, technology and the lists go on.

For the last number of years there has been a move, especially in some of the mainline denominations, away from ‘giving up’ those things to ‘taking something on.’ For those of us who encourage this practice we mean it as a way for people to take something out of their busy days in order to find more time for God. Sometimes that has been to take on a spiritual practice, a way of finding God available in every time and place in the ordinary and extraordinary in the midst of all the rest of the busyness of life. Other times it is finding a new person to befriend or taking care of an animal or finding a new way to take care of God’s creation. All options are viable and good and worthy – they are all simply suggestions.

And this year, I began to encourage my congregations to give up those things which we hold so dear: complaining, worrying about money, holding onto past grudges for whatever reasons, judgment and thoughts – not that we all have those but we are all prone to those things.

 

As Lent continues – and is almost over – I encourage you too to find moments of quiet and contemplation as you find those things to give up and find new ways to find moments for God to break into your life – not only in Lent or for Easter, but for all moments of your life, blessings on this journey.

– Submitted by Rev. Graham Brownmiller, United Church