Monday, February 18, 2013

Spiritual Discipline

In our congregation, it's the youth who really "get" Lent. Sometimes, it has seemed like the older folks in the congregation haven't even heard of Lent before. We've always tried to encourage the youth to dig into the Lenten season, more than just "giving something up" but really understanding why we do what we do and really getting ready for Easter. This year, some of the youth are giving things up for Lent. My son, for example, is giving up sweets. He is having a very difficult time with this. On Valentine's Day, faced with so many delicious goodies that were out of reach, the idea of giving up sweets literally brought him to tears. His dad has graciously agreed to give up sweets with him, and that support has seemed to help a lot. It also opened a "teachable moment" to talk about Christ and what He gave up for us. However, with the youth this year, we're also trying something new. A pastor friend of ours suggested that Lent could be a time to add a new spiritual discipline to our lives. So, several of us are "adding" instead of "giving up". For example, I've added reading to my morning devotions (2 chapters of the Bible and a study book). My husband is adding a random act of kindness each day. My daughter is adding liturgical dance to her worship time each day. But here is the most unusual thing about Lent in our congregation this year: everybody's doing it. That's right; the whole congregation is on board this year. Our new pastor (his second year with us) offered an Ash Wednesday service again this year. There was a great turn-out -- nearly as many as we have on Sunday morning! Not only was attendance good, but we also had many people "on board" with the idea of "giving up" something for Lent (or adding spiritual disciplines). Our little church may not be growing astronomically in number, but we are slowly making spiritual growth. And really, isn't that what it's all about? (By the way, if you have a book you'd recommend I study personally, let me know. I've finished my first book, Paul Tillich's Dynamics of Faith, and need suggestions.)

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