This year, for Lent …

Welcome to Lent 2010. (For those who are unfamiliar with Lent, check out this primer from Beliefnet.)

Writer extraordinaire Julie Clawson penned a great and very thought-provoking piece on just what Lent is about (which you can find on God’s Politics or on her own blog). Of particular note:

Lent isn’t about denial; it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ’s sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ like ourselves. Transformation is about letting ourselves be filled with God’s presence so that we can be shaped by God’s grace. Our acts of kenosis — denying ourselves in order to empty ourselves enough to allow God to fill us — are means to an end. They are disciplines that prepare us to be transformed. We deny ourselves so that we can be reborn as new creations — to live more fully as the kingdom citizens God desires us to be.

Various friends are doing various things for Lent. Some decisions are related to food: one friend is going vegan for lent, while another is committing to the Daniel fast. Others are choosing to spend less time staring at a screen, whether it’s through swearing off of Facebook or abstaining from watching TV. Yet others are choosing proactive resolutions, in one case deciding to commit to a half hour quiet time every day.

Me? I’ve been thinking more about what it is that would be healthy for me, and what would best clear space for God. I went to an Ash Wednesday service last night at which Dallas Willard reminded us that “Christ died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Cor. 5:15). Like Julie, I don’t want to withdraw from Facebook, which is one of the few ways I’m able to keep contact with my widely-dispersed friends. I don’t really drink coffee or eat sweet things all that much, so abstaining from those wouldn’t create much lifespace.

I’ve decided that my Lenten plan will be a little mish-mash of everything:

  • I’m giving up alcohol. I’m an artist. I don’t need any additional aids to make me emo.
  • I’m gonna try to be more consistent with working out a little every day. I’ve been hobbled by various ailments since I’ve moved here–I blame a more sedentary lifestyle.
  • I’m cutting down on my TV intake–not completely, but some. So I’m still keeping Lost, Smallville, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother … uhhh, I might rethink this one. 😉
  • For those of you who remember the 6-month dating fast of 2007–Micah and Christie?–I’m instituting something similar for Lent. The last few months have made me realize that I need to be a little more settled, especially since I’m still trying to find my feet in DC. (Six months was a doozy; Lent should be a breeze.)

What about you? What’re you doing for Lent (if anything)?

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Daniel Berrigan: An Advent Reflection

Passed on by some friends of mine, here’s an Advent reflection from Daniel Berrigan, poet, peace activist and Catholic priest:

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss —
This is true: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction —
This is true: “I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.”

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever —
This is true: “For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.”

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world —
This is true: “To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.”

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young shall see visions, and your old shall have dreams.”

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and
peace are not meant for this earth and for this history —
This is true: “The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.

Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.

Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:

Jesus Christ, the Life of the world.

Verses quoted are, in order: John 3:16, John 10:10, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:17, and John 4:23.