-Barbara Brown Taylor
We are quickly approaching the sea-son of Lent, a season of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Traditionally Lent was a time when converts to Christianity would go through their education and formation process, somewhat like a catechism, to pre-pare for their baptisms on Easter. For us, Lent is a time of repentance, a time when we take stock of the ways in which fall short of God’s design for us and work to repent, which means to turn again, to God.
One of the common practices during Lent is to give something up for the season. It is akin to fasting, though tends to be less intense than a “true” fast. Many folks I know will give up sweets or sodas, some folks have given up using swear words. I’ve tend-ed to be pretty wishy-washy on the practice myself. Every once in a while I will give something up, but I don't know that it has added to my spiritual life, so it rarely hap-pens. I recognize that there can be value in it, but often I think people use it as an ex-cuse for a diet, or for ridding something from their life temporarily that they know they should probably get rid of permanently. A cleanse perhaps. It becomes void of spir-itual relevance and has more to do with physical health or personal pride.
This quote by Barbara Brown Taylor from an article that appeared in the journal
"Christian Century" struck me a while back. It helped to focus not only on the reason people give something up, but also what it is that we should give up. What are the things that we use to fill the "God-shaped hole" inside of us that only relationship with God can fill? When we are anxious, sad, worried, or depressed, what are the things that we turn to for comfort instead of turning to God in prayer? For many people this can be food, and a diet of sorts could be appropri-ate. For others this is alcohol. I've known people addicted to exercise, using it as a way to avoid situations or to "blow off steam" instead of dealing with issues both-ering them. As we journey through this sea-son of Lent, think about where it is you turn in order to fill this hole when instead you should turn to God in prayer, in worship, in scripture, or Christian community. And think about what you can ADD to your routines as well, not just take away, be it personal devo-tions, intentional time with family, works of mercy and service on behalf of others.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with per-severance the race marked out for us."
God's peace, Pastor Micah