Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent Has Begun!

The season of Lent officially got underway yesterday with Ash Wednesday. I was in the Ott Y working out early in the morning, and one guy already had his ashes on. I saw VP Joe Biden on the news yesterday, and he was talking to a group of people, and he had his ashes on. Last night, I got my ashes, along with a just about capacity crowd in the chapel at Catalina.

[A brief diversion an explanation] LENT? Huh?
What is Lent? The season of Lent has been observed from the earliest of times in the Christian Church as a period of serious reflection and prayer. In particular, it was traditionally a season of intense preparation for new Christians approaching their baptism at Easter. For Christians it was a time to renew and deepen their faith. It mirrors Jesus’ forty days of testing in the wilderness prior to commencing his public ministry. As such, the Lenten tradition of depriving ourselves of something is not a self-imposed form of penance, but rather is to bring a focus and intentionality to our spiritual life. In his period of testing in the harsh wilderness, being without any earthly comfort, Jesus found
sustenance in his identity as the beloved Son of God, and meaning in his purpose as the servant Messiah. In the Lenten practices of prayer and abstinence, we too are invited to find our identity and purpose. Setting aside material comforts and pursuits, we are invited to focus on our relationship with God, and our participation in God’s mission of
mercy and grace within the world.

[and now, back to our regularly scheduled program...] AND I socked away the first $2 in my Lent Event envelope. See, I normally drive (instead of bike) on Wednesdays, which means I normally go to Ike's for coffee. So, I did not go to Ike's, and I did put the money I would have spent in my Lent Event envelope. I am so excited about Lent Event! It is a way to DO something positive and world-changing while exercises some spiritual discipline. It takes the old "give up something for Lent" and makes it mean something. By the way, I'll be putting $2 more in today. And $2 for Saturday (I usually treat myself to coffee before Casa Maria) and $2 more on Sunday. Oooooo...that's $8 this week going toward important projects in needy parts of the world!

In case you have somehow missed it, here is some info on Lent Event:

Why Lent Event?
God has a dream – to save what is lost, to restore what is broken and to establish justice. God is speaking of this dream through the global movement to overcome extreme poverty. God is calling us to respond to this tragedy of our times. Lent Event is a movement to eradicate world poverty by challenging those of us who live in the first world to re-evaluate our priorities, our use of God’s resources and the systems that drive our economy. Lent Event is about inviting God to shape our lives more fully with Christ’s love and compassion. Through Lent Event we express God’s solidarity with people who are poor, entering with them into a future of hope. At the same time, we experience the blessings of a life lived more faithfully with God, and a world order more reflective of God’s dream.

How Does Lent Event Work?
During Lent, individuals and communities:
• reflect on the place of Christ within their lives and society as part of the continual reordering of priorities and values that is the journey of discipleship.
• forgo something of their choice during the 40-day period of Lent as an entryway to the broader spiritual disciplines of Lent.
• learn about international development projects that have a transformational impact on impoverished communities
• immerse themselves in Christian education to nourish their spiritual journey through Lent.

When is Lent in 2009?
Lent is the period of forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Easter Saturday. Sundays are not counted in the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the resurrection of Jesus.
Ash Wednesday is on 25 FEBRUARY 2009 and Easter Saturday is on 11 APRIL 2009.

If you don't have a Lent Event envelope yet, just hold on to the cash and pick up an envelope on Sunday on the back table in the hall.
Also on the back table will be a handout called "Finding Faith in Testing Times" and this is the prayer and Bible study booklet for Lent. There will be a new installment each week with a prayer and Scripture for each day and then an in-depth Bible study that you can do all at once, or a little of each day.

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