Lent is not a project or a programme.
Lent is a season when we focus not on ourselves and on our efforts but on Jesus Christ. For this reason, and in this way (in the words of the First Preface of Lent), Lent is a season of great joy.
I was raised to use Lent as a time of giving up and doing more in an attempt to bring more discipline and reward to my faith. As a child I sometimes chose to give up a sweets. As a young adult one year I gave up deserts and occasionally I have gone 40 days without alcohol. All of these were projects that I chose and I have no doubt that Jesus appreciated the sincerity of my efforts at self-denial.
Then I became aware that even the most ambitious of my projects and disciplines is achievable if only I have enough will-power and encouragement.
The down-side might be that my chosen pursuit might be an avoidance of a deeper calling that is not simply Lenten but life-time, and is found in living the ups and downs of each day in relationship with Jesus who is God-with-us.
Perhaps Jesus allows the circumstances we are living in (personally and communally) for a reason?
On the global stage this week war is a deep concern for all who seek peace.
In the lives of those I have spent time with in recent days health stresses, separation and grief, financial insecurity and pandemic fears abound, with many more secret struggles occupying minds and hearts.
We know that our loving God does not cause suffering, but why does he allow us his friends to carry such unwanted and unwarranted burdens?
Perhaps it is because God understands that our greatest human desire is not to be free from suffering but to experience the friendship and intimacy of those who also carry their own crosses and share the burdens of friends and strangers as we journey beyond suffering and death to an eternity of ultimate friendship and intimacy.
Our personal cross is not an artificial or arbitrary personally-chosen discipline but an engagement with life as it imposes itself on us. We cannot escape this turmoil, and the healthiest part of ourselves recognises these circumstances as the reality of life and the often hostile environment wherein the grace of God abounds.
So perhaps this is the Lenten invitation for the one who seeks greater maturity in relationship with Jesus and with others: to realise that while Lenten disciplines are important, these disciplines must be at the service of our desire to be more sensitive to Jesus in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
On the Homepage of this FFF website www.foodforfaith.org.nz you will find several browsing options including:
- Prayer Requests – an opportunity to list your own requests for prayer and to let others know that you are praying for them and their intentions
- Event Calendar – where you can suggest a time and place for a cafe or bar gathering inviting others to join you.