Each week during our Stations of the Cross series Randell Neudorf has been creating two paintings based on that week’s stations. During the week news paper headlines are chosen each day that some how relate to the specific station of the cross reading being used. The clippings are then pasted onto a small wooden panel. Every Friday Randell re-reads the scripture and newspaper headlines and creates a symbol for the stations we will be reflecting on at our Sunday Worship Gathering.
You may have noticed that there have been some colour changes to our website. We have changed out background colours to darker hues to remind people we are in the season of Lent.
Lent is a way of doing some intentional subtraction & addition as we journey towards the cross. It begins every year on Ash Wednesday. This year that Lent coincides with Valentine’s Day on Feb 14th. This might seem strange at first but it is important to remember that there is always an element of sacrifice involved in love. Jesus told his followers in John 15:13 (GNT) that “The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.” Jesus sets the example for this kind of sacrificial love through his death on a cross. Lent is a spiritual practice where we can decide to intentionally make space in our lives to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice by doing a little subtraction & addition over the 40+ days leading up to Easter Sunday.
SUBTRACTION: We may choose to fast for Lent by subtracting something from our lives. The idea is to give up something from your daily life that you like (coffee, chocolate, TV, Instagram, meat, sugar, etc…). If you have given up something that is a regular part of your life, as you miss or crave that that thing, you are reminded that Easter is coming. You are given multiple small opportunities each day to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through your small sacrifice.
SUNDAYS: If you decide to give something up for Lent it is helpful to also embrace the practice of breaking your fast on Sundays. There is a beautiful rhythm of fasting and feasting over lent. Your lent fast is tied into thoughts of the sacrifice made on Good Friday, but on Sundays you break your fast (and indulge in the thing you gave up) so that every Sunday is tied into thoughts of Feasting, Resurrection, Easter, and Sabbath Rest. Because of this rhythm it is important to only fast from something that is also good for you to take up again. Trying to improve your long term health is a good thing to do but it is something different than fasting for lent. It is very important to be able to break your fast with feelings of joy rather than shame or guilt.
ADDITION: Adding something extra to our lives for Lent is another great way to journey towards Easter. You could chose to add a spiritual practice (lectio divina, breath prayer, prayer of examine, etc…). You could set aside a daily time to read your Bible or another book that will help you learn something about Jesus. Any good thing could be added for lent (writing letters, walking, volunteering, taking a class, drawing, etc…). Changing the rhythm of your daily life can be a reminder that Easter is coming. Whatever you decide to take on, be intentional and make a plan. If you haven’t set aside a time or place for the activity you have taken on it most likely isn’t going to happen. In some ways taking something on is also a fast, you are fasting from the time you would have used to do something else.
DON’T LOSE HOPE: If you find 2 weeks into Lent that things aren’t going as you planned (your fast is too hard, you haven’t been consistent with what you took on, etc…) don’t despair, use the reminder of your imperfection to think about how we need God’s grace in all things. Perhaps you need to modify your fast or you need to rearrange your time/routine to be more supportive of what you are trying to do. It is OK to acknowledge to God that something is hard. Jesus did exactly that shortly before his death when he prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.” (Matt 26:39 CEV)