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Archive for Saturday, March 5, 2011

Faith Forum: How are you observing Lent this year?

March 5, 2011

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The Rev. Rob Baldwin, pastor, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.:

I am observing Lent this year in a couple of different ways. At Trinity we are having a special Lenten class on the book of Revelation, with dinner and worship at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday.

In my personal discipline, I am going to try to give up the distracting, often pointless, time wasting activities in my life like silly games and obsessively checking Facebook or news websites and find more productive ways to use that time to do things that really matter like spending time with my family and friends and in prayer.

I also am hoping to live in a more healthy manner. I have realized that I am rapidly approaching the age my grandfather was when he died very unexpectedly of a heart attack, and I would like to not repeat that for my own children.

My advice for people who are looking to adopt a Lenten discipline is to not look for a cheap and easy way to participate by giving up something picayune in nature. Giving something up may not be the answer at all, but perhaps taking something on, like a new ministry or a commitment to daily prayer. The purpose of a Lenten discipline is not to be miserable or publicly pious, but to be intentional about transforming your life into something of which both you and God can be proud. Jesus said that whatever we ask for in his name will be given to us, and that includes the strength and support to tackle the difficult areas of our lives that we know don’t look like they should.

— Send e-mail to Rob Baldwin at rb@trinitylawrence.org.

Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader and director of media and communications, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:

I have memories from my school days of classmates asking one another, “What are you giving up for Lent?” For a long time, I had only a rough idea of what that meant, because Lent was not really a big deal in the evangelical religious tradition in which I grew up.

I knew it all began on Ash Wednesday, and that on Easter Sunday, people who gave things up for Lent could have them once again, but that was the extent of my understanding.

Consequently, the observation of Lent has not been a significant part of my walk as a believer. But a few years ago, my wife decided to begin observing Lent in various ways, such as giving up sweets and desserts during the Lenten season, in order to prepare for a more meaningful Easter celebration.

This year, I’m going to do the same, and for the same reasons — not because I think it will help me earn favor with God, and not because of the associated health benefits, but because I think it will help me be better prepared to celebrate the significance of Easter, and that preparation is what Lent is really about.

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, the central, defining event of the Christian faith — it really IS a big deal. By observing Lent, I’m hoping that even my small acts of self-denial during the days preceding Easter will remind me of the One “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Those reminders of the kindness and love of Jesus can lead me to repentance, and to gratitude for what Jesus accomplished for me — forgiveness, peace with God and hope for the future.

— Send e-mail to Doug Heacock at doug.heacock@gmail.com.

Comments

Su 3 years, 4 months ago

In the Orthodox Church, Great Lent is very large! We eat meat for the last time before Lent on Meatfare Sunday, bidding "farewell" to meat (this year it is February 27th). Then we bid "farewell" to all dairy products (including eggs) as of Cheesefare Sunday (March 6th evening). Great Lent, in its fullness, arrives on March 7th, this year, and continues until Great and Holy Pascha [Easter] which is April 24th, this year. During this period of time we eat none of the above, which causes essentially a vegan diet. Pascha is the most significant day of the Church Calendar. During the Paschal Liturgy we sing: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!" So, on Pascha we feast because of Christ's great victory over death! But the fasting of Great Lent is for the purpose of forming better internal discipline [revisiting our Baptism in which we have died], and so: we fast from foods : we give our spiritual hunger to God; we fast from anger : we give forgiveness; we fast from self : we act on behalf of others; we fast from "entertainments" : we spend more time reading Scripture & praying; we fast from materialism : we give this extra to the poor. (These are intended as examples only, as there is much more involved. There are many books written on this - one example is "Lenten Spring" by Fr. Thomas Hopko.) This is, of course, the way Christ calls all Christians to behave ALL year, but Lent's purpose is to remind us, yet again, of that reality. Lent reminds us of the need to renew our baptismal commitment - reminding us to keep it fresh at all times.
Christ has trampled down death by [His] death. We die to self : we live in Christ.

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