Monday, February 4, 2013

LENT: Giving something up?

Many church denominations give something up for Lent.  A lot of kids do it because their friends do and they want to fit it in.  As Lutherans it's not required.  God does not ask us to do this.  As said by the The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod,  

Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings"Lent is just around the corner. Are you planning on giving up something for Lent, as some denominations require? From the perspective of the LCMS, "giving something up for Lent" is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. It would be wrong, from our perspective, for the church to make some sort of "law" requiring its members to "give something up for Lent," since the Scriptures themselves do not require this. If, on the other hand, a Christian wants to give something up for Lent as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, then that Christian is certainly free to do so--as long as he or she does not "judge" or "look down on" other Christians who do not choose to do this."
I've been reading more and more about people suggesting there's no way giving up chocolate or beer can ever compare to the sacrifice of Christ and suggesting that the time might be better spent starting a new devotion and prayer habit.  Try to challenge your people to share with you in reading the same devotional for the 40 days of Lent.  Have them commit to setting aside time everyday for the 40 days to read a devotion and pray.  They can either keep a list of people or things they want to pray for or they can take the time to write their own prayer to speak to God from their heart everyday.  At the end of the 40 days check in with them and see how their lives or more likely their outlooks have changed.  This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship with prayer time!

Followers of the Cross - Daily Devotions For Lent
You may find Lenten devotions online for free or written by somebody in your larger church body but sometimes there are people out there who are gifted at really making you think more deeply.  I can recommend Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen.  Another one that has shorter entries but plenty to contemplate is Followers of the Cross by Martin Marty.  Or maybe you have one to suggest to me?  I would love it if you would share it!

If giving something up truly brings you closer to God then by all means, do that.  But if not, try something that will!

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