Published on March 5, 2014
Caféchurch Presents: Lent
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’ Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11
(simple) Questions • What is Lent? • When does it start? When does it end? • What is it for?
Lent • A time to prepare yourself for Easter •Starts on Ash Wednesday (5/3/14) and ends on Easter Day (20/4/13) • 40 days, not including Sundays • Like Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The Training Metaphor • Anyone is free to run a marathon. Without training, however, one may not be “free” to complete it. • Paul likewise describes the spiritual life in terms of training • Ascetic comes from the word for training.
Question • What do you think about the idea of preparing yourself for Easter. Why do it (or not)?
Preparation • As a culture, we don’t really do delayed gratification – we don’t value preparation, so it feels like a funny idea. •Hen / Stag parties are one example
Question • What are some things we have prepared for?
An Invitation to Lent • An invitation, not a requirement • If you want to get more out of your faith journey, then this is one possible thing that might help •Obviously, it’s supposed to point you to Jesus
Story • One way to move the Christian story out of the purely theoretical and into real life is to immerse ourselves in the story, by ritual, by reading, by enacting things, by partaking of the mythic • With Lent, we re-enact Jesus’ time of preparation for his ministry
A Few Reflections on Lent • Small sacrifice reminds me of my commitment to Jesus • The desire for the thing I’ve given up reminds me of my need for God • It helps me free myself from “idols” • It is an act of solidarity with the poor • We live in an instant gratification world. Fasting reminds me that this doesn’t apply to all things – especially the most important things
A More Challenging Idea Because grief is good. Part of Lent observance is mourning. I’m not saying that everyone should go around sad and pitiful for a month and a half, but Lent may be a good time to dig deep into your heart about your losses. One of the biggest issues people don’t even realize that they have is a lack of grief. You lost a job, a spouse, a friend, or even a period of time in your life that you enjoyed is over. Did you properly grieve it? A lot of times, we walk around still carrying the weight of something we’ve lost. Here’s something: Write loss a letter. Whatever it is that you’ve lost, even if it’s not a person, write it a letter. Express how you feel about it and how you miss the good times. Share any hurt or pain its loss has caused… Then throw it away. When you do that, you release yourself from its weight and you can truly move on. Read more here
Lenten Questions • Have you ever observed Lent? • What did you do? • How did you find it?
Some Ideas of Things To Give Up • Chocolate • Alcohol • TV • Social Media • You could try fasting – A “Wesleyan” fast is from after dinner on Wednesday to dinner on Thursday
Some Ideas of Things to Take Up • A spiritual book (e.g. New Seeds of Contemplation, anything by Richard Rohr) • A chapter of a Gospel each day • Journaling • The Examen • A daily Bible reading practice (e.g. sacredspace.ie ) (or maybe a couple of days a week if that seems hard)
Lent darkness Dragons lurk in desert spaces Penetrating the mind with evil claw. Serpent’s teeth seek out the chinks insidiously, relentlessly, gnawing on the bone; searching out the interstices of muscle and sinew. Such is the pain of the wilderness. Alone, alone, alone, Christ sits in the waste place of abandoned pleas and questions until exhausted finally at last the realisation comes that in the end there is only God. In the night-time of our fears in the present reality of abandonment when family and friends turn and run, be present, ever present God. Be present with those camped out in the fields of hopelessness with refugees and homeless, those who live lives of quiet desperation. Be present until the desert places blossom like the rose and hope is born again. – Kathy Galloway (ed.), The Pattern of Our Days: Liturgies and Resources for Worship (Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications, 1996), 130.
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