Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Sunday we have the honor of a visiting pastor bringing a good Word into our midst. Scripture passages that will be read are Joshua 4:1-7 and Mark 1:9-15.

Our Lectionary Group of area pastors met again on Tuesday, and using the ancient practice of lectio divina, we read the gospel text for Sunday. We always end our time together with some spiritual practice. This week was quite special for me. As ministers beginning the season of Lent, we talked about our own Lenten intentions, the happenings planned for each of our churches, and then we prayed for one another. How good it is to be a pastor and have the opportunity to pray for other people, leading prayers, etc. But what a joy it is to BE the one being prayed for by another brother or sister in Christ. What a blessing to hear your own name, your own situation, your own church family, being lifted up like incense before the Lord.

Today is Thursday. Ash Wednesday has come and gone. Have you been asked THE question yet? You know, the question, "What have you given up for Lent?" It seems to be the most asked question of the season. But, as we discussed in our Lectionary Group, it's just as important to ask another question: "For what purpose are you giving up or fasting from something?" Although often overlooked, the answer is simple enough. We fast from something (like fasting each Friday or perhaps one meal a day) or give up something (like TV or desserts) not for the sake of "fasting" or "giving up" alone. No, whatever we choose to stop is only for the purpose of having more time to meditate upon Jesus the Christ. Giving up something may help us be more aware of ways in which we indulge ourselves so readily, but the greater good is to "fill up" on the things of Christ.The Cross, Easter morning, is, after all, our destination.

So if "giving up something" is for the purpose of "taking on something," in what ways might you add the things of Christ? How might you focus more on Jesus in the coming weeks? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Take time to ponder our Lenten devotional, From Death to Life, each day.
  2. Start a new spiritual practice, like meditating or beginning a prayer journal.
  3. Determine to read through one of the gospels during Lent. (Mark is the shortest:)
  4. Plan to spend more time in prayer.
  5. Plan to spend more time in nature enjoying God's creation.
  6. Each day, pray through our church directory.
  7. Fast from watching television.
  8. Fast each Friday during Lent, recalling Good Friday throughout the day.
Of course, the list is endless. The important thing to remember is that giving up something for Lent is only part of the story. Replacing whatever you choose with increased mindfulness of Jesus' sacrifice for all of humanity, in whatever way you choose, is the even greater purpose.

I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday. Come and support our visiting preacher.

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