Give Up Something Bad for Lent
This month, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 13. This season of the church year consists of forty days of introspection, leading up to Easter (March 31 this year). We all know the tradition of "giving things up for Lent." In this century, Protestants have rediscovered fasting and other spiritual practices traditionally observed by Roman Catholics, in grateful response to the salvation already won for us in Christ.
For athletes and musicians, "practice" means preparation. For lawyers and doctors, the word has a different meaning. Who'd want to go to an inexperienced doctor who's "practicing"? The spiritual practices of Lent help us mark the days of this ancient season as a time of sacrifice. Pursuing Lenten disciplines can be at the spiritual equivalent of working out at the gym. On the other hand, Lenten practices are more than a rehearsal -- they're the real thing. "Is not this the fast that I choose," asks the Lord: "to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is is not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house ...?" (Isaiah 58:6-7)
I'm reading a new book by pastor James Moore, entitled, Give Up Something Bad for Lent. According to the author, many Christians give up habits like eating junk food between Ash Wednesday and Easter. We eagerly take them up after Lent is over, without having changed our lives at all. This doesn't help us to identify with Christ's sufferings. Moore challenges us to give up damaging personal traits instead. He invites us to ask God' help in focusing on giving up envy, gossip, harsh criticism and procrastination, while preparing for Easter. Moore provides scripture passages to study for each week in Lent, up through Easter Sunday. They are Matthew 5:29-30 and 16:26; Matthew 7:1-15; Luke 11:37-52; Luke 9:10-17; Luke 19:1-10; Luke 6:32-36; and (for Easter) John 21:15-19. I will be happy to share this book with you. (Hackman's also carries it.) We hope you will join us for Lenten and Holy Week worship!
First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua
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