Lent is the most important time of the year to nurture our inner life. It is the time during which we not only prepare ourselves to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also the death and resurrection that constantly takes place within us. Life is a continuing process of the death of the old and the familiar, and being reborn again into a new hope, a new trust, and a new love. The death and resurrection of Jesus therefore is not just an historical event that took place a long time ago, but an inner event that takes place in our heart when we are willing to be attentive to it....
Lent offers a beautiful opportunity to discover the within us. It is a gentle but also demanding time. It is a time of solitude but also community, it is a time of listening to the voice within, but also a time of to other people's needs. It is a time to continuously make the passage to new inner life as well as to life with those around us.
When we live Lent attentively and gently, then Easter can truly be a celebration during which the full proclamation of the risen Christ will reverberate into the deepest place of our being.
I definitely didn't grow up observing the liturgical year, but as I went to college and "out on my own", I would say it's become an increasingly important part of my yearly spiritual "rhythm".
I figure, if nothing else, Lent should and can be a time to reflect, which, whenever we take the time to do that in our busy, fragmented and scattered lives, we are most certainly going to reap benefits.
This year, I would say that the Lord has been preparing me to be ready to reflect upon my life--its comforts, securities and to choose the "better part".
This is corresponding well with our renewed commitment to our budget (always in the back of my/our mind, but how "strict" are we with ourselves?) I am honestly just so sick of the STUFF! I just am so rich in material things and comforts--I don't need to compare myself with family, neighbors, co-workers to see if I am "relatively poor", because in the global scheme I am absurdly rich. Because things are accessible, I am choosing them and as long as I am called to stay in this country the "temptation" to choose so many wants over needs will be right there. So I am being called to renew my commitment to the simple--not legalistically, but because it truly is the "better part". Living simply provides the space to appreciate beauty in such a free-er way and to explore creativity where comfort has replaced it. These are most definitely the Depression-era roots of my grandparents.
So practically I am taking a challenge that my sister Kristen's friend, Cindy, suggested to her during Lent. Work through your pantry--don't just go and get more groceries, but instead be creative with what you have in your pantry/freezer, etc. So far this has produced homemade pizza, chicken divan, meatball sandwiches using frozen hamburger buns and potato dinner rolls, pudding pie on a broken graham cracker crust and once again the great appreciation for a husband who is so "easy to please" when it comes to his stomach. It's been lots of "fun" and I highly recommend it...it has also been a good deal freeing. My goal would be to reduce and simplify my "stores" of reserve and also, amazingly, if I could be under-budget this month in groceries, to give that away to somewhere in the world that it would be of great use.
Hopefully, this would jump start this practice at different points all throughout the year--to help stay in budget and be able to free up money to give away.
I am also going to be going through all of the "reserve" things that I have "around" and give/clear as much as I can...I really will need help with my "pack rat" tendencies that come to me courtesy of my beloved, sentimental mother.
Finally, I am going to be looking at how I spend the money I have on what I consider necessities and ask the hard questions about why I think I need these things and be willing to "surrender" whatever I may be called to.
The sermon this morning was from Isaiah 58 about "true fasting". This passage has been special to me ever since a season of revival/renewal that swept through many Christian colleges during the spring of my junior year. It has been beloved ever since and has inspired many a vision of the Life I would like to live...of the things I would like to be about. I am so delighted to find that the ministry we are a part of and the opportunities we have speak to "loose-ing the chords of injustice" and "breaking every yoke." However, I was incredibly challenged by what more it can mean in these days. What religious things, ways of living a so-called Christian life, do I cling to that have nothing to do with this "true fast?" I felt and knew deep within that calling toward 'greater things'...toward choosing the 'better part' and something deep in my soul was stirred than has been in quite a while...
While the Lenten season leads to the observance of Christ's crucifixion and death, and culminates in the celebration of His victory in resurrection, I believe the whole season is a calling to our own death--the things we live for that mean nothing for eternity. This is what we are 'daily' called to as Christ-followers, but I am thankful to observe the 'heart of Lent' and to bring this call to sacrifice, self-denial to the forefront of my reflection IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM FOR NEW LIFE, LOVE, OPPORTUNITY TO PROCLAIM HIM--the higher and better and more blessed that I might have missed otherwise.