Monday, April 01, 2013

Lenten Evaluation

I have two more words to complete the Rethink Church lenten image a day exercise.  I'll get to them; maybe today.  But, today, back to regular posts.  I have enjoyed getting back to posting pictures -- I hope I can continue to do that.

A look back before moving forward....  What do you think about Lenten disciplines?  I've heard lots of opinions -- give something up, why bother to give something up, pick something up....  This past season of Lent, I tried to focus on a Lenten discipline that included both picking up and putting down.  I tried purposefully to make it complicated. 

What was my discipline during Lent?
  1. Continue to do daily devotional readings -- not just on weekdays, but on all days.  I got back to that practice during Advent, and have kept it going.  I wanted to keep it going.
  2. Use the Rethink church exercise to focus my mind on watching for God.  
  3. Put down soft drinks for the entire time of Lent. 
  4. Give up beef all days of Lent except Sunday.  I wanted to have a sacrificial practice that didn't apply to Sunday (which isn't really included in Lent) so that I could see if increased the Sunday celebration of resurrection that continues through Lent.
  5. Don't eat meat at all on Fridays.
This post is already getting long, so let's skip why I chose to focus on meat and abstinence from it.  It came from a vaguely Catholic idea in my head.

So what did I learn?  Did it all make any difference? 
  1. There are those who think giving something up, like soft drinks or meat, is silly.  Why focus on something like this that has no really meaning.  What I learned is that while my giving up soft drinks is giving up something meaningless, it did end up having meaning for me.  Giving up requires discipline.  It is a practice -- a rehearsal -- for giving up something that does matter.  It's stretching and building the control muscles for when they are really needed.
  2. Making it complicated meant that each day I had to remember what I was doing.  I had to remember why I was doing it.  The practice brought God to my mind each day.
  3. What do you do when you go to a spaghetti fundraiser on a Friday to raise money for homeless veterans and you're not eating meat on Fridays?   You eat meat.  Grace -- the giving of the meals to benefit those who have no homes -- always trumps anything else.  Grace wins. 
  4. It's harder to pick something up than to put something down.  Sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it?  Even though choosing what to give up was a long process, especially because my main question was, "How much will I miss that?  How inconvenient will that be?"
  5. Now, after having given up something for six weeks, it's easier to no pick it up now.  I can do without.
Happy Easter!



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