It’s Not Just About Giving Up Chocolate…
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
When I was growing up in south Georgia, my Episcopalian friends Mercer and Lisa always proudly announced this time of year that they were “giving up chocolate for Lent!” I never really knew what that meant. All I knew is that they didn’t seem any more holy after doing this, so I kept eating chocolate…
Now, I not only know what “Lent” means, I embrace this season – the 40 days prior to our celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is one of the holiest and most significant observances in the life of a believer and definitely deserves more than just a one-day acknowledgement. “Lent” derives its name from an old Saxon word lencton which literally meant length. During these 6 weeks while we are repenting and reflecting on what Christ did for us, the days are lengthening and we are moving from winter to spring – literally into New Life.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries Christians began the practice of a 40-day preparation period which many still embrace today. Lent is a time when our souls seek God in a fresh way. And yes, fasting is one way to do that. Some people fast from a certain kind of food, others from tempting time-consuming activities such as television or facebook. The idea is to practice denial of something so that we can focus more on what Christ has done for us.
For many followers of Christ, Lent has not been a regular part of their life because it’s what those “other churches” do. But I assure you, there are practices we can all embrace during this time which will draw us closer to Jesus.
- Daily soul nurture through silence, prayer and a biblical devotional?
- Reflection and repentance for times of choosing another path?
- Reaching out with love and service to those who are hurting and need hope?
- Worshipping with the body of Christ – Holy Communion weekly?
- Living in gratitude and sharing the Hope of Easter to all around you?
One thing we can all do during these 40 days is to set aside time each day with God – reflection, prayer and Bible reading. While there are many great resources out there, may I humbly suggest my own book “Live These Words” – it is 40 days of devotionals which include one biblical word a day, a prayer and an action point. For Lent 2015 I have written a companion guide “Lenten Words” which literally takes you through these devotionals, beginning with Ash Wednesday, February 18 and concluding on day 40 with Easter Sunday, April 5. You can easily PRINT “Lenten Words” here.
My publisher, Bold Vision Books, has arranged for Amazon to offer a special discount for “Live These Words” in both paperback (only $11.69) and kindle ($1.99) from NOW through Ash Wednesday February 18. So order soon and then download “Lenten Words” from this website.
“O, God, when we pause to look back at our lives on this Ash Wednesday, we realize that we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. We have neglected to do good when it was in our power to do so. We have ignored the cries of the motherless, the fatherless, the widow and the widower choosing instead to turn children and the elderly into the new poor.We have not dealt honorably with our enemies or our friends, and we have feigned a place in the company of the righteous. Forgive us, O God, for the times we have neglected to provide our children and our world an authentic example of Christianity. As we begin the journey of these 40 days, Wash us, O God and we shall be clean.Cleanse us, O Lord, and we shall be made whole. Amen.”
under the mercy, Cindy
©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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