Last week I received a call from Curt who works for the Derrick. He is the person who writes the Religious section for the paper. We had a lovely conversation which focused on the tradition of LENT in our Reformed /Presbyterian Church. Curt was asking how Presbyterians honor/practice lent. What do we ‘give up’?
Presbyterians do not have a strong tradition of ‘giving up’ some specific food or habit. (Although it is perfectly acceptable if you are committed to do/sacrifice that in memory/honor of what Christ has done in your life). We, as Presbyterians, often use this time of Lent to focus on, or work on, some way in which we might honor Christ and response to all that Christ has done in our lives and the world. We might make a point of identifying areas in which we are unforgiving, and then work to release those feelings or actions – allowing us to serve Christ with new freedom. We might work on our tendency to be selfish or other areas in our lives that are not furthering the Kingdom of God on earth.
A few years ago, one of my very close friends decided to intentionally focus on actively ‘doing’ a ‘Christ-like’ response each day during Lent. One day she worked at a woman’s shelter and made a point of listening to the stories of the women who were temporarily living at that shelter. Another day she made cookies for a neighbor who was always complaining about everything and was a difficult person to care about. Another day she took an inventory of people in her life who had been unfair to her, and she intentionally prayed for them to have peace and joy. This went on for the 40 days of Lent that season.
My friend told me that this experience of LENT was life changing. It was cleansing. It was enlightening. It was healing. It was empowering. It was life giving. This practice of caring for others and living out the message of Christ to the world prepared her for the journey Christ took on our behalf and allowed her to rejoice at the strength in suffering and the joy and gift of Salvation through Christ.
This Lenten season, may we as a church community, work to follow the footsteps of our Lord, to reach out to others in love, to examine our hearts and minds and focus on understanding Christ’s gift of GRACE to ourselves and to the world.
May God Bless you as you move to be the hands and feet of Christ wherever you are and with whomever you meet throughout this Lenten Season.