FROM THE PASTOR’S PEN: “Lent Reflections – Old and New”

“Lent,” which comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten" meaning spring, is a season the Church has designated for soul-refreshment and re-dedication in preparation for our observance and celebration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Since the fourth century, this season has been devoted to Christian nurture through spiritual discipline. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for forty days (excluding Sundays) until Easter. The forty days are variously identified with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness in prayer and fasting, the forty days spent by Moses on Mt. Sinai, the forty hours of our Lord’s entombment, or the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension. Because Lent has traditionally been a season stressing prayer, study, fasting, and spiritual reflection many Christians may associate negative images of suffering and sacrifice with this season. Personally, although I think Lent’s call for spiritual renewal is extremely valuable, I do not believe we need to equate Lent with suffering, sourness, or discomfort. Even the practice of “sacrificing” something during Lent is not meant to promote suffering, but to free the time saved for spiritual pursuits, or free the money saved to help those less fortunate. Although our sacrifices and “sufferings” may help us focus on the sufferings of our Lord, the purpose of Lenten disciplines is not to suffer but to focus and improve our relationship with God. The paragraphs above should seem familiar, I have used them other years in The Messenger to introduce our entrance into this season of preparation. The “new” part of this message comes when we try to reimagine what type of “fasting” would be particularly helpful for us this year. Giving up some food, some television program, or a cherished activity may help us focus on Christ’s suffering, free up some time for spiritual pursuits, or offer a helpful bonus to those wanting to diet - but this type of fasting may also be somewhat superficial. What type of “fasting” would be most helpful to prepare our spirits? Linda found the following posted on Facebook from the pietrafitness.com website. Do You Want To Fast This Lent? In the words of Pope Francis Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and have trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity. Fast from pressures and be prayerful. Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others. Fast from grudges and be reconciled. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen. Following up on last Sunday’s sermon I would suggest adding: Fast from judgement and offer forgiveness. Fast from prejudice and seek understanding. Perhaps you would like to offer some additions of your own. I will post the list above on the bulletin board in Fellowship Hall and would invite you to add your suggestions using the marker provided. As we journey through Lent together let us seek meaningful ways to seek God’s presence and blessing this season. In Christ’s Service, David