Feb 13, 2013

Lent, to add or take away... that is the question

 I am not Catholic.  But I do "practice" Lenten traditions.

If you have no idea what Lent is about, let me tell you a little. (It's not that weird fuzz you pick out of belly buttons or the dryer lint trap)...

1. Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday (the day you are recovering from your Mardi Gras celebration) until Holy week (the week that starts with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter or Resurrection Sunday.)

2. Lent is a time for reflection and preparation as believers of Christ (that would be, Jesus) prepare and reflect on the crucifixion and (most importantly) the Resurrection of Jesus.

3. Lent is also a time where many Catholics, some Methodists and a random smattering of other people either give something up or add something to their lives (like a spiritual discipline) as a way to experience sacrifice or spend more time thinking about Jesus.

For me, Lent is a time that I can re-focus my attention on why I do what I do... and get my head right for celebrating Easter.

For years I gave something up to represent the sacrifice that God made, and to experience that sacrifice in my life.  Recently, there has been more of a push to "add" something to your life as a way to change things up and increase holiness or something.

So, which is better?  I think it depends on why you are practicing a Lenten sacrifice... for me, often I would give something up, to just give it up.  It wouldn't draw me closer to God, and other than the first week, where I would crave that thing I gave up, it wouldn't really make me feel like I was sacrificing much of anything (except the year I gave up fried foods... 40 days with NO chips and salsa?!  Ooh.)

I would argue that giving something up to just give something up, or to help with your diet, or stop a bad habit, though good things to do normally, not necessarily a good thing to do for Lent.   Giving up fast food for Lent, though a sacrifice, it was always more self-serving than sacrifice in the end.  I was doing it to lose weight, not to prepare my heart for Easter. (rolls eyes).

This year I am adding something.  I am spending more time with God in prayer and silence.

I am unplugging for that time.  I will be journaling with a pen and paper, and listening for God's voice.    Abiding, you might say.  In all fairness, I am sure I am giving up something to do this... a stupid TV show, 30 minutes of reading and commenting on blogs, wasting time on FB, but the focus is on what I am adding...

Some Scriptures to focus on this week:

Show me your paths
    and teach me to follow;
 guide me by your truth
    and instruct me.
You keep me safe,
    and I always trust you.  Psalm 25:4-5

Turn your eyes from my sin
    and cover my guilt.
Create pure thoughts in me
    and make me faithful again.
Don’t chase me away from you
    or take your Holy Spirit
    away from me.  Psalm 51:9-11

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-8

So what about you?  Do you practice a Lenten sacrifice?
Do you give something up or add something?

Looking for a very non-religious and humorous take on Lent?
Check out this post from the Washington Post.

Linking UP! 


  1. I think the thing that has always kept me from giving Lent much credibility was all the 'I gave up chocolate' type discussions. I'm really excited to see what it is like to just focus on Christ a little extra the next 40 days. And really really excited to experience Easter after spending all that time reflecting. Hope your Lenten season is powerful! And thanks for checking out my blog so I could check out yours :)

  2. I also wrote about Lenten fasting today. I think the component that is often missed today is almsgiving or charity. Our sacrifices should not be for our own sole benefit, even if the benefit we seek is spiritual growth and discipline.

  3. You are going to get so much more out of it this year, I think. I don't practice "Lent", however, I am always trying to add something to my life or improve something to bring me closer to Him. I try to go beyond that 40 days.

  4. I really like your way of thinking this time around. It makes such good sense.


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