So when my friend Nancy turned around in Old Testament one morning and asked if I wanted to be part of a fasting group for Lent, I balked. I told her I’d have to think about it, that I wasn’t sure I was comfortable doing anything in public.
What I finally rationalized in my own mind and after some prayer was that I didn’t want to “give up” anything for the sake of giving it up. But if there was a way to substitute in a spiritual practice for whatever I was giving up, well, that would be OK. And so four of us met in the chapel at “breakfast” and at “lunch” for prayer and scripture reading, and met again for dinner at someone’s home to break our fast and enjoy our fellowship.
The experience was so meaningful and powerful that I have been always tried to observe a new spiritual discipline during the season of Lent. While I typically give something up, I also try to add something that I’ve never done before. The point is to become aware of the places where God is working in my life and in the life of the world around me. The idea is to open myself up to God’s grace. If I do the same thing over and over again, and never change it up, I’ll miss the great work that God is doing in the world!
If you are interested in Lenten discipline, here are some great links to get you started:
- 40 Ideas for Lent from Rachel Held Evans (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/40ideas-lent)
- 40 Ideas for Lent from Mustard Seed Associates (http://msainfo.us/40ideas/)
- How Do You Picture Lent? http://www.lecfamily.org/lent
There is also a purple table in the church Narthex with four different resources (kind of like an Advent calendar for Lent) that you can use individually or as a family. My family and I are particularly fond of the Lenten World Hunger offering sponsored by the Memphis Conference of the UMC. You can find out more about that here
Here are some of my plans for this Lent if you’d like to join me in body or in spirit:
- I will be doing the Wesleyan fast, which is a fast from food each Wednesday and Friday from sunup until about 3:00pm. In other words, no food from Tuesday at dinner until Wednesday at 3:00, and no food from Thursday at dinner until Friday at 3:00. During those times I will be in prayer for Medina FUMC, for the community of Medina, and for Medina FUMC’s engagement of our neighbors.
For a great introduction to Wesley’s insistence on fasting, I highly recommend reading “On Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse VII” which you can find here:
- I will be in the sanctuary every morning, Monday-Thursday at 7:30am for 20 minutes of contemplative prayer and then reading the daily scriptures from the Book of Common Prayer. You are welcome to join me in body or in spirit! I am using the BCP Readings app which is available on both iPhone and Android.
For more on the practice of contemplative prayer, I recommend this video and this book
If you have any questions about Lenten disciplines, I’d love to chat!
Have a blessed Lent!