Light a Candle: Lattes Laced with Grace on Lingering through Lent
For Lent this year I think I might give up housework. Because I just love it so much. And my husband? Well he is going to give up procrastination. No wait….he’s decided to leave that until next year! And my eldest, Master almost seven, has suggested that he might give up tidying his bedroom. But he never tidies his bedroom! He also cheekily suggested that I could give up blogging for Lent. And perhaps the kids could give up grizzling. All jokes aside, for the last few years I have engaged in an annual facebook fast for the season of Lent. Which is no easy feat when you are a fanatical facebook fan.
But what is Lent you might ask? Well here is Lent 101: An Introduction to Lent. It sounds very religious. And it differs from lint, which can be found in your dryer. But Lent is the period of time in the christian calendar over forty days that begins on Ash Wednesday (today) and finishes on Easter Day. It is celebrated primarily in mainstream churches. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, repentance of sins and self-denial. It’s purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Lent is traditionally a solemn time of reflection, aknowledging our need of God and his love, help and guidance. It is a time to lay down those things that clutter our lives, and to learn to live with less, so that we can cultivate time to listen to God, prayerfully preparing our hearts for Easter. Many Christians give up something during Lent. It is often chocolate or some other pleasure. I’ve heard Lent described as a time when chocaholics take an ‘s’ out of dessert, and are left with ‘desert’.
We don’t really feel enthusiastic about living in a desert. But Lent is an opportunity to connect more with God, and to pursue greater intimacy with Him. I love candles, but I’m not really into to many religious symbols. Liturgy is not something that I lean towards and ritual is not something that I relish. Our family attends an evangelical spirit-filled Anglican church, but I wouldn’t really describe myself as an Anglican, more a nondenominational follower of Jesus. Having not really grown up in church, I don’t have a denominational bias, and I have a heart to see denominational divides come down in the Body of Christ. I tend to see Lent as an opportunity to practise self-discipline. That de-cluttering spiritually and listening to God is a pathway to to life and liberty. Through the dryness of the desert of Lent, we can experience transformation and new life which is celebrated at Easter. Through pausing, lingering and reflecting on the resurrection.
I know that I could improve in the area of self-discipline. How many times have I tried to give up something and fallen back? The Bible says that ‘I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.’ (Romans 7:19). This is a common human experience. The times I have forged ahead with my annual facebook fast, only to take a sneaky peak at my newsfeed here and there, I will confess. Perhaps we should have a ‘Lent Fines’ jar, and donate all funds raised to charity at the end of Lent. But God is a God of grace. He’s a God of liberty and not legalism. And he wants us to live an abudant life. Lent is not about lack, it’s about learning and growing through having less.
Recently I read something on the topic of Lent that really challenged me. Lent is a time to gain self-control especially in areas that may damage others. What if for Lent this year we were to give up gossip instead of chocolate? What about instead of a swearing jar, we could have a slandering jar? When we gossip about someone it grieves the heart of God. What if we were to choose to bless others rather than curse them with our words? What if we were to give up apathy instead of facebook or television? What if we were to hunger in Lent to end greed? And Lent is not just about giving things up. There is also much we can give during Lent. Giving thanks, devoting time in prayer and giving space for listening to God in solitude and simplicity. A pure heart create for me, O God. Put a steadfast spirit within me.
For Lent this year I’m going to (attempt to) give up sugar, so I may be a little cranky for a few days. I’m also going to gently tirate myself off Facebook, although I’m not going to fast from it entirely. Our family has been implementing a ‘Screen-free Sunday’ in our household this year, and during Lent this may extend to a ‘Screen-free Saturday’ and a ‘Facebook-free Friday’ also. Or a ‘Twitter-free Tuesday and Twitter-free Thursday’ – a nice idea, but I don’t actually have a twitter account. And giving up my homemade lattes and cappuccinos? Well that might be a little radical……
“For you will light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”