13 February 2016

Lent, in others' words

I have always appreciated the season of Lent, as the church services (songs and liturgy) fits better with the messiness of faith as I have experienced it. I bumped into several folks who have captured well the goodness and messiness related to Lent and faith, so I'm including those here.

writes about "Why Lent is Good for Bad Christians:"
"When we are desperate to be healthy and whole, yet know we don’t have the discipline to make it happen, sometimes we have to sign up for boot camp, for an intensive and structured routine that turns our good intentions into concrete action. Welcome to Lent."
"A way that we err in how we approach Lent: We confuse our metaphors and treat these 40 days like an actual physical boot camp, when in fact spiritual fitness is the whole point. We turn the church calendar into a liturgical Fitbit, a tool we can incorporate into our lives to help us realize our weight-loss, strength, or technology-use goals. . . It should be clear at this point that I think physical fitness is good, and that setting goals to achieve said fitness is important. I have personally abstained from alcohol during Lent for the past three years, and during that time I feel better and probably lose a bit of weight. But I abstain from alcohol because it’s part of church tradition, not because I lose weight. It should be clear that the point of Lent is not to get six-pack abs." Read the full article.

James K.A. Smith writes about An American Lent, lamenting how even giving up something at Lent is primarily about my individual (expression of) faith:
"In a more robustly communal practice of the faith, my self-denial is not up to me. The practices of fasting and feasting are not a matter of choice: they are part of the spiritual architecture of the church. It's not so much that I choose to abstain from meat; meat is not going to be served. There are communal commitments embedded in an environment that takes the emphasis off of my choice and will power and instead throws me into the formative power of the practice.  My participation in the formative disciplines of Lent isn't another chance for me to show something to God (or others).  It is an invitation to have my hungers retrained." Read the full post to see how this is typical for American Christianity.

Lastly, if you are still confused about what Lent (or Ash Wednesday) is, how Catholics celebrate it, and/or just simply like Lego, there's a one-minute video on youtube about Lent (using Lego)!

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