Word of the Week

40 Days

Two days and counting until LENT begins . . .

In a nutshell, Lent is a time of preparation, of meditation, of reflection before Holy Week begins. It's a time in commemoration of Jesus' forty days in the desert of temptation and re-gaining his focus before his ministry began.  It's a time when we choose as followers of Jesus, to set a part some time to worship a little more intentionally, to pray a little more thoughtfully, and organize the patterns of our lives a little more faithfully so to re-center our lives with things that really matter. It's a time of the year when many Christians begin some sort of fasting ritual whether it be with food, worry or a physical activity.

Our Ash Wednesday service at 7pm will begin the 40 days of waiting until the joys of Easter are upon us.

Though most Baptists (especially the southern ones) aren't always known for their observation of Lent (saying that it is too "Catholic"), Washington Plaza Baptist seeks to find its home in the larger mainline tradition of solemn worship and prayerful discipline which Lent offers. It is encouraged that we all find something either give up or take on.

On Sunday at church, I overheard several conversations about upcoming Lenten disciplines.  Issues emerged such as "What can I give up for Lent that I can live without for 40 days?" or "What's the big deal about giving up something like chocolate, soda or Facebook because after the 40 days you just go back to it?" or "I just don't understand Lent. It is nothing I've ever celebrated before."

I understand such sentiments because it wasn't until less than 10 years ago that I had ever heard of Lent either. Lent to me as a child was that stuff that comes out of the dryer . . .

But, over the past several years, I've grown to love Lent because I recognize how much my life needs the discipline. While giving up soda or alcohol or adding more time for reading or exercise or prayer sounds like a small thing of little value, I've grown to understand that it is important to that allusive word we call balance. For in the practice of Lent, as we partake of it together in community, we receive God's gift of  mindfulness.

By giving up something impulsive to us or adding something we despise but is good for us, we begin to see questions like:  "To whom or what am I most loyal?" "What impulses in me are greater than for love of God alone?" "What structures have I built around my life to support me that are constructed on false pretences?"

So, today, I'm thinking more about what my Lent discipline this year might be and encourage you to do the same. (Wednesday will be here soon!)

If you are having trouble thinking of something . . . might you consider coming to our spiritual formation class on Wednesday nights at 7 pm (or immediately following the worship service this week) on the topic of Spiritual Stories? Email me for more information. . .

I promise you, the joys of Easter will be greater if make the commitment this year to fully be present in the preperation in advance called Lent.