Thursday, 18 February 2010

What Are You Giving Up For Lent?


Has anyone over the last few days asked you, "What are you giving up for Lent?" Well, as I suggested to two congregations yesterday during Ash Wednesday services, for Lutheran Christians Lent is not really about giving up chocolate, or wine, or cheese, milk, eggs and butter, or red meat, or television or blogging if it comes to that. We should eschew such a trivialising attitude to this season, as it really represents nothing more than our culture's non-comprehending and dim remembrance of a distant, pious past.
If fasting helps you cultivate a spirit of repentance and devotion in this season, then by all means fast. If abstaining from a non-essential activity in order to have more time to reflect on what Christ has done for you is a possibility for you (and who of us can say it isn't?), then by all means do so.
But guard against your acts of piety becoming the focus of your Lent.
Lent is a season for confessing our sin and seeking God's forgiveness earnestly.
It is, above all else, a season for returning to the grace of our Baptism, wherein we were united with Christ in His suffering, death, burial and resurrection for our salvation.

“ Now, therefore,” says the LORD:
“ Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
Rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love...
(Joel 2:12-13)


A Blessed Lent To All Visitors to the Old Manse.

8 comments:

Melanchthon said...

Thank you. A good reminder. I encourage our members to fast and pray and to engage in the discipline of Lent, but there is the danger of thinking of Lent as a "roll up our sleeves" time and the demon of self-righteousness lurks very near.

acroamaticus said...

Thanks Jon. My target was really the trivialisation of Lent, rather than fasting or abstinence per se. In Australia, we love trivialising things we aren't entirely comfortable with or don't understand. But, yes, self-righteousness always lurks...

Melanchthon said...

Don't know if you saw this:

http://tinyurl.com/yzkb5lp

If Biden was a Muslim, we would not hear an end to the apologies.

Matthias said...

i attended my church's thursday night service last evening ,where they presented their Vision for the year ahead. The presentations of what we have been doing kept on coming :
homes for the homeless
soup kitchen,supporting work in india,one girl off to the Middle EAST to work in bible translations,,church planting in regional Victoria where there are no effective churches preaching the gospel,people doing internships.
At my table during a discussion period two chaps said that "unless people are prepared to get involved ,they should not attend??" i do not know if that was a joke that latter remark .
Our pastor then spoke about the need for us to get right with God, and renew our first love in Christ . All good but I thought that there was a triumphalism there ,when we should be getting leading from the Holy Spirit.
So I woke up bit depressed this am and in repsonse to your comment thought "i think i will give up my church's thursday night services and attend another for Lent ",

acroamaticus said...

Glad to know this post helped put current events into perspective for you Wayne. We Lutherans certainly don't have everything 'right' in our church life, but when we look at Evangelical churches, I think we do wonder whether they don't get too caught up into a 'theology of glory'. We need to remember that God effected our salvation through humbling himself. And yes, it's good to 'do things' for the kingdom but, to paraphrase Luther, God's kingdom comes even without our efforts. Well, let me know how you go with Lenten services; I pray you find a suitable place near you to attend.

acroamaticus said...

Heh, heh. How embarrassing for this reporter. Well, Joe Biden is accident prone, isn't he? So maybe it wasn't such a stupid assumption on her behalf?

Matthias said...

I like your distinction between Lutherans and Evangelicals. Triumphalism seems to be embedded in the leadership .I had an uncomfortable experience with one of the leaders when i said to her that i had attended the Lutheran church around the corner,from where i now go she said " well we are better than them". Perhaps i am getting a bit critical and should stop blogewriting for lent,but i did find this comment by this woman a bit galling to say the least

acroamaticus said...

Perhaps she was feeling insecure as a result of your attendance elsewhere - a natural human reaction.

Well, if you give up commenting on blogs for Lent, it will be quiet around here! Follow your conscience, brother.