Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Adventures, February 2018 from "The Quincy Quill"
How is it already the month of February? I suppose as I get older, time tends to move even faster, as each new year goes by quicker and quicker. While it feels like we just put away our Christmas decorations, we are already looking toward the season of Lent, the forty days (not counting Sundays) before Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day).
As the team at Discipleship Ministries in Nashville (Dawn Chesser, Taylor Burton-Edwards, and Jackson Henry) explain,
the annual observance of the Lenten discipline among Christians is a time to seek restoration for our lives. It is a time to reflect, take stock of our spiritual condition, and realign our lives. Our method for taking stock is the baptismal covenant as our reference point and making good use of the means of grace as our method. We enter the season through the Ash Wednesday call “in the name of the church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word” (The United Methodist Book of Worship. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992, 322 from The Book of Common Prayer,1979, Public Domain). As we contemplate the method of Lent, even the spiritually mature among us become aware of how out of step we are with where we are called to be. We all have work to do.[i]
One of the questions that I am often asked about Lent is why we give something up. I have learned in my still limited life-experience that we give up something pleasurable so that we can allow God to fill that void, although we can also add a spiritual practice in place of something we gave up or instead of giving something up, add a spiritual practice/discipline. Things we could give up include rich foods, alcohol, sweets, negativity, complaining, social media, and anything that might be weighing your body, mind, or soul down. Practices we can add are extra prayer (check out the smartphone app, ‘Common Prayer’), read The Upper Room devotional booklets we have as you leave the sanctuary or in the church office, or if you’re on the go all the time, check out the website pray as you go. Or even add a book or two to read, as our church library has a number of good books or you’re welcome to check out my library in the office.
Once again this year, as I did two years ago with my past roommate at Wesley, I’ll be attempting to do a modified “Daniel Fast,” which means I will not be eating any meat (except fish), consuming any alcohol, coffee, refined sugar, or leavened bread. Instead, I’ll eat fish, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and only drink water. It’s no way easy and the first few days are tough, especially considering that I’ll be working as an assistant spiritual director at the combined boys/girls Chrysalis Flight in Sacramento the 16th-19th (although will be back to lead worship on the 18th, then back to Sacramento). However, I felt even closer to God when I did it in 2016 and filled myself with extra prayer and reading during that time. I tried it last year, but did not succeed, so hope to do it to the fullest extent this year (in other words, ‘don’t feed the pastor,’ as much as I appreciate the thoughts and offerings).
As explained by the Discipleship Ministries team above, Lent is an opportunity to spend more time in prayer while also examining ourselves from the inside out. We need to take a good look at ourselves from the perspective of our bodies, minds, and souls, in which Lent is a great time to do so. During the season of Lent, our worship series will be called “Rehab” as we work towards realigning our lives back towards God. During this journey, we can support each other, check in with each other, and encourage each other through our small groups, whether it’s the men’s group on Saturday, my small group on Wednesday afternoon, Charlotte’s Bible study on Thursday, or the Lenten study I’ll be hosting at the church office on Mondays at 10:00am beginning on February 19 then in-lieu of my ‘coffice hours’ during the season of Lent, I invite you to join me in the chancel of the sanctuary for a time of midday prayer from Common Prayer and a time of centering prayer each Thursday beginning on the 15th at 12-noon. While we might give up something we enjoy, we can fill ourselves with these extra practices during the season of Lent so that we may die to the things that bring us down and rise again with the new life of Christ on Easter.
As we enter into the wilderness with Jesus, what new practice are you going to try this Lent? If your health allows it, I also invite you to join me on the modified “Daniel Fast” and keep encouraging each other as we go into the wilderness and walk with Jesus. I look forward to journeying with you as we journey together with Jesus through the wilderness, into Jerusalem, the cross, grave, and into new life.
Peace & Blessings,
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