What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

11 February 2018

Almost Time

If you're planning to observe Lent this year, but haven't worked out how yet, now's probably a good time to think about it. I mention this because I have a tendency to think I have more time than I really do for most things, and it's possible other people have a similar affliction. 

Don't forget: we already know this
story has a happy ending.
Source: George Bosela on
freeimages.com
.
I write pre-Lenten posts not because I'm any kind of an expert on Lent, but because I got a few years' head start on most of my previously non-observing acquaintances, so people tend to ask me relevant questions. The least I can do is share a few things I've learned on this journey, in case you were wondering but don't have anyone to ask. So, here you are:

1. Are you judging me for not doing Lent?
No. I don't have that kind of mental energy. You do you and I'll do the same.

2. Do you have any Lenten resources to recommend?
I do not, but if there's a particular area of your faith that you'd like to explore more, that's a good starting place. Your local library probably has a decent religion & spirituality section.

3. Should I announce my fast on Facebook?
People are a little weird about this one, which is probably why I've heard a lot of strange reasons in favor of blowing a virtual trumpet on Shrove Tuesday. Here's what I got:
  • Before you decide, please read Matthew 6:16-18 and carefully consider your motivation for announcing your fast.
  • If you're asking me as someone who's done this many times and has some experience of the value of people knowing my fast vs not: no, you shouldn't.
  • If you're asking because you're hoping that announcing your fast will start faith-producing conversations: you may have misjudged the medium if you expect a productive conversation on Facebook, but if you have an exceptionally open-minded audience, go ahead and try it. Best of luck.
  • If you're asking because you're looking for some accountability: I'd suggest you find an offline human, or if it must be online, that you approach someone you trust via private message.
  • If you're asking because giving up Facebook is your fast and you want to let everyone know where you're going: I'd only do it if your absence will upset someone. Again, this is probably best done via private message rather than a public announcement.
  • If you're asking for spiritual guidance, I refer you again to Matthew 6:16-18.
4. Do I have to go meatless on Fridays?
Are you participating in Lent as part of your faith tradition, and if so, does that faith tradition ask you to go meatless? If so, in order to fully participate with your community: yes. If you're creating your own community or going it alone, then you have a bit more leeway to decide which elements, if any, of the traditional fast you're going to adopt. 

5. Did you know it doesn't really add up to 40 days?
Yes. Sundays don't count as part of the 40 days because Christians celebrate Jesus' resurrection on those days, and that celebration supersedes the mourning/fasting of Lent. (Sundays aren't meant to be days "off," though. Lent isn't a diet with cheat days built in.)

6. Does it matter what I give up?
Yes, it matters, but maybe not in the way you're asking. (And it's okay if you haven't decided yet.) Some things to consider:
  • What are you trying to learn from Lent? What areas of your life need growth? Think about that and let that shape your fast. Also keep in mind that your fast, if it's helping you learn/grow, may not be something you want to stop at Easter. You can absolutely use these six weeks as a starting point for something more permanent.
  • Some folks are under the impression that people only give up sins that they should have already been trying to remove from their lives. Now, if Lent helps you do that, I'm not about to tell you not to. Six weeks of focused intent may be you push you need to finally deal with that thing. 
  • You may feel like giving up chocolate or TV or something small is silly. But if you're a first-timer or you choose something small that will be a genuine challenge, there's no reason to feel less than because you gave up coffee. Growth can come from small things, too.
  • It's not so much what you're giving up; it's what you replace it with. So before you say, "Got it!" take some time to consider what you're adding to your life during Lent.
7. What if I don't start on Ash Wednesday or fizzle out by the end?
It happens. That's why the Israelites prayed, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (That's Lamentations 3:22-23.) Make a new beginning as often as you need to.

8. What else do I need to know?
Get in there and do it, and be open to what changes in you. If you have a community to do this with, by all means, embrace that community whole-heartedly and do this together. God has placed you in a community for good reason, and fasting together as a shared experience can multiply your joys and divide your struggles. Do not neglect your community this Lent. Embrace them.

You still have a couple days to get ready, but try not to wait until 11:50 Tuesday night.

3 comments:

Courtney said...

I love your dedication to candor, sincerity, and the building up of others. Thank you.

Sharlan Proper said...

Thank you.
Stirs more curiosity to try.

Su Wilcox said...

Thanks, y'all!