Posted by: Chris Hoskins | February 25, 2009

Lent

So, the season of lent is upon us. What will you do to mark this period in the Church year? More importantly, WHY will you do it?

I’ve spoken to quite a few people over the last few weeks who’ve been talking about what they’re giving up for lent. It was very easy to talk to people about what they’re giving up, but conversations seemed to flounder when we started talking about why?. So what does lent mean to you, why do you do, or not do, anything during lent?

What is lent traditionally? It seems to be an ever changing concept, originally it merely was used as a word for the spring season. Over the centuries it has morphed into the concept of a time of preperation – through prayer, penitance, self-denial and self-sacrifice – leading up to Easter and the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sounds very noble and worthy, what does it involve really though? What does it mean to me personally? To you?

For me, its about renewal, a time to set aside everything I’ve failed at over the last year and focus on bringing myself back to God and my relationship with him. And its not just about my failings, its about looking at all the things that have been good and bad over the last year. Making an attempt to see God in everything thats happened. Sometimes its easy. Its easy to see where God was in things like Youth Assembly, its very easy to see where God was in the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Its hard to see where God was/is in some of the struggles at Portlethen Church. Its incredibly hard to see where God was/is throughout Iona’s suffering and death and the continued suffering thats come out of that.

Reflection, thats a key word for me at this time of year. Reflecting over the last year and how I’ve got through it. Another key word is Renewal. My relationship with God as really floundered over the last few years. I hate that. I find prayer, both speaking to god and listening to him, nigh on impossible most days. I struggle to have any regular, quality time exploring Gods word. I want to use this period, where the whole Church is focusing on preperation, on spending time reflecting and renwing myself; spiritually, emotionally and physically.

So what am I doing for lent? I’m concentrating on developing faithful practice in my life. Faithful practice in my prayer life, my Bible study habits and my attitudes towards things in life. I’m also follwing to other lenten practices suggested by two of my friends: Journey to Jerusalem is a program of reflection developed by Christian Aid, to help us reflect throughout our Lenten journey, but trying to avoid the often selfish habits of self-reflection. By doing this, I hope to be able to connect more with the challenges our world faces and how we should be responding as Christians. By following this, I hope to keep myself real and not retreat back into myself as I reflect, I have a bad habit of retreating into myself during hard times, I want to move away from that. Thanks to Stewart Culter for pointing me towards this! The other Lenten practice I was pointed towards is the Blood:Water mission. A challenge to only drink water during Lent, and use what you saved on not buying other drinks to help projects in Africa. Seems a great idea to me! Thanks to Laura for pointing me towards it.

Please share any Lenten journeys you are undergoing yourself, shared stories during a period like this can only serve to encourage and inspire us all on our own journeys. After all, faith is both individual and corporate. To grow, we must share our individual experiences with each other.

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Responses

  1. Chris,

    Huge thank you first of all. I have to teach a lesson on Best Friends and until reading your blog I didn’t really know where to go with it.
    I think I’m going to try and focus on how Jesus suffered so many ways for us and is(or should be our Best Friend), yet often we neglect or choose the easy way of going about Lent. Jesus gave his life yet we find it hard to go 40 days without.

    I’m not sure what I want to do this year for lent I always seem to choose things that I know will be a challenge to complete yet half way through forget about Lent and end up eating/drinking/watching whatever it was I was giving up. I might try and focus on just remembering the season everyday and actually complete the 40 days sucessfully for once.


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