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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, February 07, 2005

Lenten discipline

(Note: the following is the gist of an article I wrote for the newsletter at my field ed parish; I thought to share it here, as well.)

Have you made any plans for keeping Lent? Some people have a standard practice to which they return each year. My grandmother, for example, never in my memory ate desserts or sweets during the days before Easter. It was simply part of her annual devotional practice. Other folks consider something new each Lenten season-- either in the way of some sacrifice, or taking on an extra activity of some sort (beginning a specific devotional prayer or practice, or volunteering at some new ministry). And these things are all fine opportunities to build up one's faith.

This year I'll be one of those doing something different. You may have noticed that I tend to be the busy sort-- inclined to be doing, working, running around and active. And I do already have some regular devotional practices-- scripture reading, or saying the daily offices. However, I find that sometimes those become perfunctory; duties I perform out of habit, and then set aside too quickly as I move on with my day. So beginning on Ash Wednesday, it is my intention to take a few minutes each day simply to be quiet-- to be still, in the presence of God. I'm hoping to spend a few minutes each day listening instead of talking; offering my attention to Jesus, instead of requiring his.

As I told you, this sort of stillness does not come naturally to me. However, that is the very reason that it seems an appropriate sort of lenten discipline. The deliberate effort to set aside my schedules and activities and priorities, even for a few minutes, seems as though it will be a good reminder that what I'm about in my ministry-- indeed, the ministry to which we are all called-- is not about me, or anything I do or don't do. It's not about any one else, for that matter. Rather, it needs to be all about God, and what God has done for us in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In other words, this year I will be giving myself a gift for Lent: the gift of intentional time spent resting in the presence of our Savior. Won't you join me?


Blogger Dawgdays said...

Nice article.

We were talking about something similar on Sunday.

It seems that often, the "giving up" or "taking on" is still focused on the self - what can I do. Instead, it seems that whatever one chooses as a Lenten discipline, the point is to be open to, closer to, more attentive to God.

In Sunday's sermon, I think the gist was that as we're headed into Lent, instead of being down on the plain in our regular lives we're all invited "up the mountain" to be closer to God.

February 07, 2005 9:03 PM  

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