Suggestions for Lent
By Wes Telyea
Originally posted March 5, 2014, at Caught by Christ. Republished with permission of the author.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
Lent began with Ash Wednesday, and Facebook has been abuzz with people declaring all of the different items they will be giving up.
I have read about some who will be giving up Facebook, others who are giving up different foods. Mainly sweets and refined sugars. Surprisingly, no one is giving up fruits and vegetables. Another popular one I have seen a few times is not that people are giving something up for Lent, but that they are taking something on. For example, I have seen people declare that they are taking up five minutes of prayer each morning. All in all I have to admit it's quite impressive to see what some are doing. It's also neat to see how comfortable people are asking a virtual community like Facebook to hold them accountable for their fasts.
In light of all this, I thought I would offer my own guide to Lent. For me Lent has always been one of the most moving of the liturgical seasons. The opportunity to be confronted with our sin is a deeply transformational experience, and one I don't think we spend enough time doing. So here are my three suggestions for you to make Lent a time of spiritual renewal.
Pray the Prayer of the Day quietly as you are preparing to worship on Sunday morning
We live in a very fast-paced world, and often we transfer that to the church. I like to remind people that no matter what you do today, the church will be here tomorrow. Why? Because bluntly, the church doesn't rely on us, we rely on it. That is to say the church is where the gospel is properly preached and the sacraments properly administered. I am not talking about the building here. The building needs you. It needs someone to pay its bills and keep it looking nice. The gospel and the sacraments though are another story. So as you arrive at church in the morning take the time to leave your business at the door, and center yourself to receive divine gifts.
Keep the focus on Christ
I use to give up stuff and take things on for Lent. I don't anymore because I don't feel like I get anything out of the spiritual practice. If anything I get distracted by them and lose focus on what matters: Christ’s death and resurrection FOR YOU. My advice to you during this season is that if giving something up or taking something on helps you more clearly see Christ, then do it. If it distracts you and makes you think only about what you are doing, then drop it. Our focus this season, and should be during all seasons, is Christ and not what we are giving up.
Attend mid-week services
Lent is supposed to be a little intense. It's supposed to be a time when we spend more time thinking about the ways God works in our lives. Spending an extra hour of your week worshiping can only help you.
Find a link to Wes Telyea’s entry on the blog Caught by Christ at Lutheran Blogs.