By the Rev. Ed Bartle
St. Edward’s, Mount Dora
Lent will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 13 and will continue for 46 days, until Saturday, March 30.
I know many of you are thinking about what you will “give up” for Lent. I'm not sure that is the frame of mind we should be considering. It sometimes seems we feel “obligated” or “required” to make some kind of sacrifice during Lent. It needs to be something given or taken up in a true spirit of love. How often we are asked by friends, “Well, what are you giving up for Lent?”
If we decide to sacrifice during this 40-day period of penitence and soul-searching meditations we need to know that sacrifice is meant to be an offering between us and God and not something to flaunt as if we are martyrs.
Jesus taught about fasting; “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matt. 6:16.
Whether you make any kind of commitment for the period of Lent please see it as an opportunity to explore your ability to reach up to God and seek his strength in your fasting.
We can give something up, or take on something (volunteering in a soup kitchen, etc.) or opening up books to broaden our spiritual lives or even setting fifteen minutes a day aside to spend time with Christ. We will be celebrating Morning Prayer each day of the week and will walk the 'Stations of the Cross' every Friday night in Lent as well as offering a Lenten Bible Study series. Join us if you can.
At. St. Edward’s, we have purchased a number of Lenten Meditations booklets from Episcopal Relief & Development which are available for parishioners who choose to follow the daily meditations offered. ERD is promoting helping a hurting world. The following is a quote from Robert W. Radtke, President of ERD:
“The season of Lent offers us the opportunity to reflect on our lives, our relationships with our neighbors and the larger world as we move toward the celebration of Christ's resurrection and the season of Easter. This tenth edition of Episcopal Relief & Development's Lenten Meditations is a journey of prayer and reflection that can guide our discovery of how we can help to alleviate hunger and improve food supply around the world, through God's abundance in our own lives. It is authored by a group of leaders from across The Episcopal Church, who bring particular theological and spiritual perspectives to these writings as they ruminate on their favorite Scripture passages and other sources of spiritual wisdom.”
If you are looking for a “cause” to get involved with to bolster your commitment to a project that benefits others, this is a suggestion.
At least, take time to reflect on where you are in your relationship with God and your community. We are given this perfect opportunity to grow stronger in our faith by sacrificing. Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness. Can we fast (in some respect) over the next 40 days as well?