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Top 5 returns...

03/28/05 | by Sara [mail] | Categories: faith/skepticism

Although not in its original sarchastic bent. (We'll save that for next week.) I observed Lent for the first time this year, thanks to our favorite ecumenical friends, Matt and MaryEllen. The details: I decided to give up snacks after dinner, since that is a vice that is hard to let go of, but not as hard as, say, TV or the Internet. I also did readings and prayers from the Praying Lent site (although not every day. Hey, I'm not perfect.) So, without further ado, here are my top 5 reasons for observing Lent:

1. Brings structure to prayer time
I am often at a loss for what to pray, which is probably why I don't do it very often. I liked the fact that there were opening and closing prayers, which helps my structured personality. I also liked praying through the intercessions, which focused on prayers for the lost, the poor, the church, etc.

2. Bible readings were relevant to the season
The site also had daily readings, some OT and some NT. I decided to read only the Gospels because I have a short attention span and I knew it would be about Jesus, the guy I'm trying to get closer to by doing this anyway. This became so important to me, especially during the last week, as I was reading accounts of Jesus' washing the disciple's feet; of his betrayal; of his crucifixion. By Good Friday, I think I was actually mourning the loss of Jesus from the perspective of those who knew him well. I was able to think about what they must have thought and experienced--extreme sorrow. Our church had a Stations of the Cross ceremony as well (apparently with revisions from a Christian church minister, which made it 'okay' for us to do). The night was very cold and as I stood there in various parts of the church yard listening to the readings and prayers, I felt sorrow, I understood the immensity of God compared with my own insignificance. I also felt a sense of community, which I will explore next.

3. Promotes community
While doing the readings and prayers, I knew that people everywhere, from different backgrounds (church and otherwise) were coming together for a common goal--to seek out Jesus, to understand him better, to feel in communion with him. I believe that my spiritual growth is increased when I'm in accord with other believers; these are the times I feel most filled up and closest to God's presence.

4. Teaches discipline
Abstaining from snacks after dinner might not seem like a lot, but when you eat like I do, it is. In the times we had people over during the 40 days of Lent, I served people food at my house that I couldn't eat. A few times I felt like I bent the rules (not eating dinner until late so I could have dessert right after), but all in all, I was successful. Although that wasn't the most important thing, of course. I decided that each time I felt hungry and couldn't eat, I would pray. Sometimes it was just a small prayer, akin to "God, I remember that you're there", but it was better than I usually do.

5. Makes Easter more meaningful
Instead of a random day in March (sometimes in April) where we go to church, I felt that I had been preparing for a celebration for over a month. Especially after the darkness I experienced on Good Friday, I felt that Easter Sunday was a release--of emotions, of celebration, of gratitude. I have to say that Easter 2005 was the most meaningful Easter I have ever had. For the rest of the week, I plan to continue with the Easter prayers and readings. They are meant to be reminders of the Good News. As I felt the sorrow of the early church when Jesus died, now I can read and pray about their celebration.

I know this post is totally out of character for me, but I felt that I should share this with you. Maybe you can join me in observing Lent next year. Any ideas for 'normal' top 5 lists? You can put them in the comments.



Hey Danny, yeah… that’s really cool and I’d have to say it was inspirational too to read it. It’s so easy to become dogmatic about spiritual issues and such.

gringo [Visitor]http://www.whoisgringo.brendoman.com03/29/05 @ 00:04

That was Sara.

[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/03/29/05 @ 07:49

oh, doh. sorry Danny and thank you Sara. =)

gringo [Visitor]http://www.whoisgringo.brendoman.com03/29/05 @ 09:18

that was a great top 5. i admit that i was pretty lame in my observation of lent this year. after reading about your experience, i wish i had done the daily prayers. when we observe advent i feel much of what you talked about in your lent experience. when christmas finally comes i feel i’ve been preparing for it and it is so much more meaningful. next year i’ll give up something that will be more of a sacrifice - and i liked your idea about praying whenever you missed what you gave up. when i thought about watching tv, i just thought, “oh darn, i gave that up for lent,” rather than reminding myself what the sacrifice was all about. thanks for sharing all of this.

[Member]  03/29/05 @ 09:38

Great post. I’m glad it was such a good lent/easter for you. This is why I like the church year so much. It kind of allows me to live my life in sync with other belivers, now and for the past 2000 years, and in a way that constantly reminds us of our story, living in that story every day.

I’m thinking a sunday school class with the church year as an outline to some bible and church history study would be interesting.

[Member]  03/30/05 @ 09:18
[Member]  04/02/05 @ 20:13

Another Lenten season is almost upon us and Christians around the world, mainly from the Orthodox denomination/s, are packing their coffee, mars bars and other minor indulgences away for another 40 plus days. The sacrifice, if you can call it a sacrifice, does rather pale into insignificance compared with Christ’s 40 days in the desert — that’s desert and not dessert.

Perhaps Lent has some meaningful lessons for the fashion world too? What if some of the major Fashion Brands gave up exploiting third world labour for 40 days and insisted on fair wages for works during this 6 week amnesty? What if the guilty Fashion Houses (we all know who they are) reflected on the barbarity of the fur trade for 40 days - perhaps their suppressed spirit of compassion would see the light of day? What if the fashion trade gave up production methods that harm the environment and during the 40 days held collective workshops seeking environmentally-friendly alternatives? …And us, the consumer, what if we gave up a piece of designer clothing in our wardrobe and donate it to charity and agreed to buy only ethically and environmentally conducive clothing during Lent. What if? What if? What if?

It’s not all doom, gloom and cynicism — the fashion world can take heart from a growing number of ethically and environmentally responsible brands: KOhZO, Loomstate, Edun, Coexist and Stella McCartney amongst others.

Even icons of consumerism and their devotees should turn to the sacred for at least 40 days each year.

Jake [Visitor]http://www.kitmeout.com02/28/06 @ 03:44

Is this an offtopic rant or amazingly targeted spam? Either way, you’re missing the point of Lent. It’s not about pointing out other people’s faults.

[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/02/28/06 @ 08:12

It’s not about pointing out other people’s faults.

I thought that is what Christians were to do as a primary function.

[Member]  http://hundiejo.com02/28/06 @ 11:21

I just read this post for the first time, Sara…and I really appreciated it. I relate with alot of your postings…this one inparticular struck a cord with me. Giving up something for lent is a lot like fasting. I remember when my friend was dying of cancer & I fasted thinking that God would notice my requests more that way than me just praying His will for her. One of the good things that happened through the fasting was the times when I was hungry & it would remind me of His(and my friend’s) suffering & I would pray through the hunger. It’s the acknowledgement of His sacrifice for us, I think. Not that missing a few meals compared….but, what my friend went through…I think maybe that compared more accurately with what Jesus sacrificed for us. It made me feel close to both of them. I think that is the point, and what we strive for. Thanks for the post.

Sara Vick

sara, also. [Visitor]03/25/06 @ 22:59

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