Preparing for Lent

Lent Slide - 2014 copyAnything worth doing is worth preparing for.  On Sunday, I spoke about how we can prepare for Lent.  I admit this post is a few days late, but hopefully it is still worthy of sharing.  We took the time to prepare our hearts and minds for Lent – with the idea that we would not miss the first week or two of Lent wondering how we are going to experience it.  It’s like going for vacation or experiencing an anniversary – part of the specialness is the build up towards it.

This year, I am challenging myself and others to think of Lent as having the possibility of being different than any other year.  Let’s really open ourselves up to what God wants to give us.

What does God want to give me this year?

How will fasting and abstaining happen for me?  Or is there something I want to add to my time of preparation?

Over the next few weeks, we will be going through the Stations of the Cross.   The Stations of the Cross represent the story of Jesus carrying the cross to His crucifixion.  On Sunday, we started with Jesus in the Garden.

Here we have Jesus in the Mount of Olives  – a common place for many key events for Jesus.  We hear of Jesus kneeling – I think kneeling shows real vulnerability.  We see the humanness of Jesus in this picture as we do when he weeps for Lazarus.   As Commoners, we don’t often kneel.  I think there is value to doing things with our body in worship and value to practicing our faith in different ways from our regular routine.  Jesus asks IF God is willing, to take this cup of suffering.  Not my will, but yours be done. The Gospel of Luke specifically mentions Jesus’ “anguish” or “agony.”  Luke adds that Jesus was so intense in prayer that his sweat became like drops of blood.  Here again, we see the humanness of Jesus.   Jesus turns to God as we can.  He leads by example.  He shows us how to come to God with humble reverence and absolute trust.  At the end of this scripture, Jesus is reminding us keep our spirit vigilant.  This idea that the spirit is willing but the flesh is week.  In these days to come in Lent, let’s keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation.  That we may remain spiritually strong – keep reflecting and praying so that these next 40 days are different.

So how are you going to prepare for lent?  Is fasting relevant to you? Do you find value in adding something to your daily routine?  Do you need to first clear away the clutter?   In my home, everything has a place – even the pillows on the couch have a certain order.  But I do have a few cluttered secrets – the corner of my office, my bedroom closet and the ever overflowing garbage and recycling underneath my desk.  As I prepared for gathering this week, I found myself wanting to clean away the clutter.  I organized, I purged, I rearranged.   Clearing the clutter allowed me to feel more at peace and ready to accept what God has to offer me.

So it may not be that you need to give something up but how can we place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us?

How can we de-clutter our own lives in Lent?

I am also challenging myself and others to ask how can we be aware of those who are in so much more suffering than us?  Let us be aware of them as our brothers and sisters in Christ … our community … people that God has put in our lives.

Let us look at Lent as a journey together as a community.  It is not something you have to experience on your own.  How can we support each other on this Lenten journey? Without community we cannot be enriched by others or enrich them.  Only through the context of community may we continue to find and understand a relationship with God.

On Sunday, we took the time to spread ashes on top of our hand, asking ourselves, “what is keep me from accepting this invitation into something deeper?”  “Is there something I need to strip away?”

Then we took part in Communion, telling God we are accepting Him into our lives.  Asking that we would recognize God’s grace when it comes to us and that we would be aware of the many ways in which He reaches out to help us today.

Lastly, we took the time to kneel and be with God and to write down on a piece of paper something that we think God wants us to hear during this season of Lent.

Below is a picture of some of these prayers.  I am hoping that we can take the time to actually pray for each other in this community … that we would be open to what God wants to give us and set ourselves in a place where we are ready to accept them.

Lenten Prayers