I’ve wanted to write a bit about the season of Lent that begins tomorrow, but I haven’t carved out the time I really need to write intentionally.  I will say a few things though.  I never grew up in a church or community that practices Lent (or any church calender, for that matter).  It wasn’t until I was in my early-mid twenties (it’s kinda weird that I can say that) that I found an interest in participating.  The first few years I gave up things that now feel like “typical evangelical” things to give up: coffee, soda, desserts.  Looking back on this initial experience of Lent, I realized that I allowed the practice of Lent to be built up with some form of legalism.  I gave up coffee for 40 days, but I found other methods to dull the caffeine headaches that followed.  I gave up soda, and found myself drinking a lot of Brisk ice tea.  I established my own Lent Laws, and quickly found ways to subvert them, like drinking a lot of caffeine-rich tea instead of coffee.  I think I completely missed the point when I did that.  It would be like giving up watching TV for Lent, when all the shows are still available on the internet.

I was thinking about writing about what I think Lent means and how I want to approach it this year, but I found some words that are much more eloquent than what I could write.  I’ve never met this guy, but by the looks of his picture I’m sure we’d get along just fine.  He looks bad ass.  Kester writes, toward the end of the post, about what it means to not just deprive yourself of something for Lent, but to make sure to fill the space back in with something good.

What happens then is that we begin to experience resurrection. Not just resurrection in our own minds and hearts, but resurrection that pours out into our families and friendships. Resurrection that pours out into our workplace. Resurrection that pours out into our neighborhoods. Our communities can be forever changed if we treat Lent as an opportunity not just to rid ourselves of something old, but to begin something new.

You should take the time to read his whole post.  It’s good.  Really good.

Another post that I want to link to pointed me to some Lenten resources that look very helpful.  If you aren’t familiar with The Jesus Manifesto, you should be.  Even if you disagree with everything that they write about, they write in such a honest, compassionate, thought-out way that cannot be dismissed easily.  Apart from the suggested resources, Mark wrote a sentence early on in his post that brought to light how so often, it’s easy to have ulterior motives when we are deciding what we will give up for Lent.  It’s good.

The last link that I want to share is to a guy named Jason.  I met him and his wife last August and a Justice Kitchen get together.  I recently found his blog and recently he had a post entitled, “What do you Believe.” You should read it.  It, too, is good.  Reading Jason’s thoughts in this post and in others gives me hope in people who call themselves followers of Jesus.  It wont take long in poking around on his blog, and you will see his heart for living out the gospel of Jesus in a physical way.

So, that’s that.  I pray that if you are participating in this Lenten season that your heart will remain focused on the reason you are giving something up.  May you find peace in the difficult moments ahead.

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