Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Celebrating Lent

This year, our family is celebrating Lent for the first time!  I guess it just never occurred to us to do so in the past... I'm not really sure exactly why.  I think it's because it has never been celebrated in the faith communities that we were a part of.  It's not a big deal at our current church either.

Today being Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, my thoughts centered mostly upon why Lent is observed.  Lent --- it is the preparing of one's heart for Easter.  Traditionally, people "give up" something for Lent because the act of refusing oneself of accustomed pleasures develops a discipline that molds the body and the soul towards Christ and towards God's will.

Last night, at the dinner table, we discussed as a family what we could "give up" together for Lent.  The overwhelming consensus is a pleasure that we are very much accustomed to as a family... and that is eating out at restaurants whenever we feel like it!  So, we decided that is what we are "giving up" for Lent.  No eating out for our family starting today until Easter Sunday.

I thought: "What did I get myself into?!?  I'd have to cook regularly for the next six (and a bit) weeks! Including weekends!" :o

Today, I read a little bit more about the practice of Lent. I found out that many people "give up" pleasures and direct the money that they would have spent on those pleasures towards something worthwhile, something compassionate and/or charitable.  I like that!  Lent is starting to make much more sense to me now!

The following video offers a suggestion... one I don't think I can do because it would mean no coffee for me when I wake up in the mornings!  That would be disastrous!!!  I would be sleepy and dopey all day.  Imagine that!

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.

After my many readings today on the practice of Lent, the following verses from Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV) stayed in my heart...
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
One of the quotes from Chapter 10 of One Thousand Gifts also kept coming back to me...
I am blessed.  I can bless.  A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.
~ Ann Voskamp.
I felt God saying to me that we can not just merely "give up" a pleasure during this season of Lent, we need to "act out" His love as well... to show love to the last, the least, the forgotten and the forsaken.  

So... buried in the back of my mind is this organization in the Philippines.  It is run by volunteers, many of whom I personally know! I contacted one of the Board members through Facebook this afternoon and I am happy to say that our family will be sending six under-privileged Filipino children to school this upcoming school year!  Might I add... for the same amount of money that we would have spent eating out in the next six (and a bit) weeks!

Now I understand the practice of Lent!  It truly can develop a discipline that molds us towards God's heartbeat!  I bet that after this season of Lent is over, our family would now think twice before going out to eat at a restaurant.  Because one meal at a restaurant for us is equivalent to sending one under-privileged child to school for one whole year... giving him/her a better and brighter future.  Imagine that!

Another thought did also cross my mind today... if we didn't eat out at all, imagine how many more under-privileged Filipino children can go to school!!!  I think I'll hold off on that thought for now.  Let's just concentrate on getting through these six (and a bit) weeks first.  One small pleasure at a time, right? ;-)

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God! 

1 comment:

  1. We've never really observed Lent, either, but this year I've got a devotion book coming (in 3 days!) to use. (It's a little late.) Last Wed., our youth pastor shared the same verses from Isaiah you quote above and talked a little about Lent and Easter to the youth, so for us, too, we'll start something new! Exciting, isn't it! So nice to connect with you through Ann's on Wednesdays.