Lent is the season for this experience of giving your life over -- in each moment, bodily, deliberately, to Christ and to what the Spirit is showing you. God wants you to surrender yourself, and let the Spirit work in you.
In Lent, we take responsibility for our acts and thoughts, and treat certain of those as the killers they are. Lent is self-discovery of the parts of ourselves we don't want to discover, through prayer, fasting, and other disciplines.
It is the opening up, the turning over to God, the repenting of our sins, the turning away from that which does not please God. Yet there is just a glimpse of Easter through the heavy clouds of Good Friday -- that Christ has taken the burden, and you don't have to carry it anymore.
In Lent, it's traditional to give up something(s) that we do a lot of and that we find pleasure in. This 'giving up' is done :
* as a discipline for learning self-control, to free our minds from the chase after material things,
* to identify with Christ's sufferings, and remember what the true pleasures are for followers of Christ,
* as an act of sorrow over our wrongdoings.
Sometimes we don't notice how certain things we do have gained power over us and dictate our actions. In Lent, we discover these things and give them up so that God can be in charge. Franciscans use the term 'detachment' : the less that 'stuff' preoccupies your life, the more room there is for God, as well as for yourself and for other people.
The most common thing is to fast for Lent. If giving up food isn't much of a task for you, choose something else that you have to make an effort to give up. For many people, that means 40 days without :
* impulse shopping
* catalog shopping
* computer time
* Facebook time
--- anything that most relates to a sin that's especially sticky for you as well as the activities that provide you the opportunity to do them.
Lent is not all about giving things up. It's also about adding good things to our lives or to others' lives -- the kind of good things that follow on what Jesus asks of us, especially that which relates to what we're giving up.
* Reconcile yourself to someone you don't like, or even hate or did something bad to, or just intentionally stayed away from.
* Do acts of kindness for people, just because they're there; give them little tastes of God's love.
* Take some time to study about what causes poverty. Follow the threads as far as you can. Not only does it better help you serve Christ, but you also add into yourself a useful education in economics, sociology, and biology.
* Study, meditate, and pray over one or two Scripture passages for each day.
* Think upon something ordinary that you do every day, and think about God while doing it, in a way that ties into what you're doing. Or think of a place you come to regularly, and each time think where Christ might be in this place, what Christ might do there, or what you might be led to do for Christ.
* Check out your ethnic heritage. How do Christians in it mark the season?
* Attend special worship services.
* Try to find a new way every day to bring to mind Jesus' death on the cross, and why it happened.
So for this year's season of Lent I have decided to cut out any non-necessary shopping. Let me explain. I will still obviously buy groceries, and other necessary items. However, I will forgo the impulse shopping, and shopping for things I don't really need. Like books, clothes, etc. If I end up needing to replace something, I will not buy new if at all possible.
As far as ADDING something, I will be studying Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, as it is exactly 40 days and the time line fits perfectly for Lent.
Lent begins on February 25th, 2009....
What will you give up and add to your life during this season of Lent?