The Season of Lent and Learning From My Father

by Edie Wadsworth on February 15, 2010

Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days with it’s culmination in Easter. The church we attend, Our Savior Lutheran Church, will be observing a traditional Ash Wednesday service at noon on Wednesday and we invite any of you who are local to attend. This is a repost from last February and will explain Lent in further detail.

emme&daddy

“Lent begins with this realization. That we are a people in exile. That we are wandering far from our true home. And thus the beginning of  repentance isn’t merely the terror that one finds in wandering in a strange land; the beginning of repentance is homesickness. Lent teaches us to fess up to how often  we settle down in the land of our exile as though it were our true home; attempting to still the yearning the Spirit has created by throwing at it physical or    psychological pleasure, and how it never works.”     courtesy of Pastor Will Weedon

Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter that is characterized by prayer, reflection, repentance and often fasting, then culminating in the celebration of the resurrection and the feasting of Easter. It roughly mimics the 40 days Christ retreated to the wilderness and wrestled with the devil. Many evangelicals reject ‘lenten’ observance because it’s just too Roman catholic and because there is no mandate for it in scripture. As a former evangelical, I can say that I’ve spent 30 years enjoying the ‘feasting’ of Easter without the penitential and preparatory time of Lent  and I wish I could go back and change that. I find that one of many benefits of following the traditional church calendar and being in a liturgical church is that nothing gets overlooked.

It’s a methodical way of proceeding through the scriptures and it prevents such things as quickly glossing over the celebration of Christ’s resurrection without spending time in quiet reflection of His death on the cross, the mental anguish and suffering which took place while he was in the wilderness, and the details of the events of His life during Holy Week. It’s like walking in ‘real time’ with Him during the last weeks of His life. Is Lent discussed or commanded , per se, in the scriptures? No, but penitence and fasting and prayer are  and what better time to observe a more rigorous christian discipline than as we reflect upon the last days and weeks of the life of Christ.

And we all practice degrees of discipline already. Lent is the spiritual equivalent of physical exercise for the body. The body gets stronger when we demand much from it….not when we always ‘give in’ to what it wants. The same is true in disciplining our children. Because we love them so much, we demand what is best for them—which is often not what they, in their immaturity— want for themselves.  In C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, he puts it this way:

“It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms; with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging circumstances. God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense………The Church is the Lord’s bride whom He so loves that in her no spot or blemish is endurable.”

Though the analogy breaks down when taken to extremes, God compares our relationship to Him to that between a parent/child. And Lewis, in his book, compares our being brought into God’s family to a very ‘badly brought up boy’ being introduced into a decent family. When they see traits in this child that are detestable, Lewis says ‘they not only hate it, but they ought to hate it. They cannot love him for what he is, they can only try to turn him into what he is not’.

…we are at present, creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, and as it is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves.”

God our Father, despite our unloveliness, has given us everything we need and has clothed us with the righteousness of Christ, but we, like Adam, want to ‘clothe’ ourselves. Lent is a time to strip down; to take off the filthy clothes of our own righteousness and to let our Father give us from His hand what He knows we need.

It’s like the picture of Stevie teaching Emme to fish. We learn from our Father by spending time with Him. There is much He wants to teach us and much that needs to be changed in us. But more than all that, He wants to give us Himself—-knowing that we were created for relationship with Him. And  nothing will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul save Our Father’s perfect love.   Lent is time to retreat with Our Father. To confess to Him that we have wandered so far from home and that we have become far too ‘comfortable’ in the pleasures of this life. To confess to Him how utterly dependent we have become on everything, but Him. And He will gladly ‘receive’ us back with open arms:  not because we demonstrate to Him our growing discipline and holiness,  but for the sake of Christ and Him alone.

A few stray thoughts:

1. Lent is a time for penitence and reflection and the practicing of christian discipline. It does not make God ‘more pleased with me’ and is not a ‘good work’. God is pleased with Christ alone and good works are those things which I give in service to my neighbor.
2. If I purpose to ‘give something up’ for Lent and then two weeks later find that I fail and can’t keep my lenten discipline, God is not disappointed in me. God is pleased with Christ and thus pleased with me when I have faith in Christ. I am a sinner who fails and sins constantly. And my failing is not a surprise to God.
3. If I keep my lenten discipline to the ‘tee’, I must be careful not to try and convince myself that I’m ‘more spiritual’ or holy than before. I have been freely clothed with the righteousness of Christ and am only learning to ‘fit’ into clothes that were given me by God.
4. We must also be careful not to view our discipline as ‘suffering’ and remember that Christ suffered on the cross for our redemption and we do not get to choose our own suffering (by giving up, say diet pepsi for a month).
5. It is a good exercise to occasionally deprive our bodies….to not give in to every fleshly desire. We are so often slaves to our own bodies and teaching ourselves discipline in any area is often met with resistance.

I leave you with another quote from Pastor Will Weedon who kept me from seeing Lent as a season where ‘I work hard to become more holy’;

The holiness into which you seek to grow has already been given to you, whole and entire! It’s yours in Jesus Christ, the gift of His righteousness  fully bequeathed you in Baptism, and constantly renewed in you by absolution and the Holy Eucharist. Through these wonderful gifts, we get to GROW  in the apprehension of that which is already our own, learning to live more and more from it, more and more from union with Christ and less and less  from the old self. So it is not that holiness grows in you; it is that you grow in holiness! Getting used to whom God has made you to be in His Son.   There’s real effort here, of course, but the effort is working at resting in Him who works all things through us. I don’t overcome sin by my willpower (ha!),  but by the strength of Him who has united Himself to me.

I have been unbelievably blessed since I started blogging and using various other modes of social networking.  I’ve made wonderful friends.  I’ve been  inspired in countless ways.  And I owe you a debt of gratitude for how you’ve encouraged me and shown God’s love and grace to me.    But the internet can quickly suck you into a black hole where you’re left wondering where the last 2 hours went.  During Lent, I’ll be going ‘unplugged’ (no blogging, twitter or facebook) for parts of the season.   I plan to take a couple of weeks off—starting with Ash Wednesday until the following Monday and then from Palm Sunday to Easter.   Why am I doing this?   I hope to lessen the distractions that often keep me from doing the things I want and need to do.    More prayer, more fasting, more reading and cleaning and organizing—–less twittering, facebooking, and blogging and feasting and procrastinating.    Sometimes a brief period of respite from social media can help put it back into it’s proper place.   I’ve said it before, the internet makes a great servant but a poor master.    I will  be praying for you.  I wish you a blessed Lent.

Kyrie Elieson

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 patty February 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

i so admire your discipline! thanks for inspiring, always.

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2 Kim... and Her Coffee February 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm

What an inspiring post. Thanks for the thoughts to consider here. I love your idea of fasting from the internet for days at a time during Lent….

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3 grac February 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I completely agree that taking time to set aside yourself for God is needed in every way.–whether you do it at lent or not–for me, I don’t celebrate lent. But then again, I also don’t celebrate Easter in it’s traditional form. It’s not about what I don’t do and what you do. It’s about our hearts and taking that time aside for the Lord. Doesn’t matter when, it just matters that it happens.

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4 Cate February 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I truly appreciate this post Edie. You have really challenged me in a number of areas, and I will be printing this out and sharing portions of it with my family too.

Bless you,
Cate

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5 pj February 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm

This post was beautiful and thank you for inspiring me to think about and reflect upon lent.

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6 Anna February 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Thank you for sharing this again. I am a new reader and very much appreciated this read. I am Episcopalian, so can relate to a lot of what is here. Thanks again! I, too have been wanting to take a “break” from blogging and Facebook and think that these 40 days are the perfect time to do just that. I am wanting to spend more time in my Prayer Book and these will be my times.

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7 Kris February 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Edie,
The youth of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church are serving a pancake supper for Shrove Tuesday (tomorrow) if you and your family are interested. It starts at 6pm and families are encouraged to bring board games or decks of cards for fellowship afterwards.

Hope you and yours are well!
Kris Price

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8 Michelle February 16, 2010 at 12:12 am

I love this post I have been wrestling with God today about ways I can grow this Lent. Thank you for your authenticity it is inspiring.
Blessings to you and I will be praying for a holy Lenten season for you and yours.

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9 Candace February 16, 2010 at 12:40 am

Edie, thanks for these words on Lent! I shared it on my blog cause you said it much better than I could. :) I am a Baptist who did not grow up observing Lent, but have done so the past few years and LOVE it. Thanks for sharing.

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10 Jessica @ These Are The Days February 16, 2010 at 1:52 am

OK, so you know I was a ‘closet Lent goer’ last year. I loved it so much I am for sure doing it again this year. Thanks for breaking it down for me again. You sum it up perfectly. Loves. Jess

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11 Stacey @ Living By Faith February 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

Edie, This is a beautiful post. It is probably the best written explanation on Lent that I have ever read. Thank you for reposting it!

Stacey

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12 Stacey @ Living By Faith February 16, 2010 at 2:29 am

Oops! I was so overcome with the power of this piece that I typed my blog address wrong. Really, it was that good! Stacey

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13 Staci Amy February 16, 2010 at 3:10 am

WOW!!! I’ve been a closet blogger for toooo long :( This post TOTALLY made me come out :) I am Catholic (converted from being a Southern Baptist) and man oh man is this ever a GREAT post!!!! Thank you Edie!!! Thank you sooo very much!!!!! The Lord be with you during this incredible time!!!

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14 Staci Amy February 16, 2010 at 3:10 am

WOW!!!%20%20%20I’ve%20been%20a%20closet%20blogger%20for%20toooo%20long%20%3A(%20%20%20This%20post%20TOTALLY%20made%20me%20come%20out%20%3A)%20%20%20I%20am%20Catholic%20(converted%20from%20being%20a%20Southern%20Baptist)%20and%20man%20oh%20man%20is%20this%20ever%20a%20GREAT%20post!!!!%20%20%20Thank%20you%20Edie!!!%20%20%20%20Thank%20you%20sooo%20very%20much!!!!!%20%20%20%20The%20Lord%20be%20with%20you%20during%20this%20incredible%20time!!!

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15 Staci Amy February 16, 2010 at 3:12 am

Okay, I don’t know what just happened to my last comment???? That is crazy….I hope you can take away all the percent signs and 20′s and read it :) I promise I did NOT type it like that!!!! Maybe I’ll just go back into my closet :(

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16 Jennifer February 16, 2010 at 5:29 am

Thank you so much for this post. I have never fully understood Lent and all the meanings. This year, I am choosing to observe this Holy Season with a new reverence.

Blessings,

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17 Mott @ The Courtyard Gate February 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

This has really given me much ‘food for thought’. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your faith that has challenged mine. I will be trying to learn more about this and it certainly sounds like something that I need. You’re a doll and I appreciate you!

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18 Trina February 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I don’t really know you, but I sure do love you. Thanks!

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19 Betsy M February 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Thank for this post! I am a Catholic and have always found such renewal in the lenten season. I have so stuggled this year debating if I am strong enough to give up looking at blogs, the internet, etc. This was just the encouragement I needed. Have a blessed lent!

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20 Julianna February 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I copied and pasted pieces of this; I hope you don’t mind. It’s wonderfully and beautifully written. Great perspective!

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21 Molly Pearce February 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Beautifully said Edie! Hope you have a blessed Lent and you continue to grow! I am making a list of things to for go this Lent season and hopefully keep them up through the year to stregthen my walk with Christ. Happy Tuesday friend!
~Molly P

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22 Edith February 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I really appreciate your way of thinking & praying. I’ll try also to be far from the net & try to connect the real life. Be blessed for all your sharings. I’ll pray for you :)

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23 Beth February 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Great idea! May the Lord bless your time with Him! (But know that you will be missed.)

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24 Donna February 17, 2010 at 12:31 am

Wonderful post, thank you for sharing…as a Christ follower this season is at the center of our faith! I guess being a Southern Baptist I fall into the “evangelical” category and although my church doesn’t observe Lent through liturgical services, I have still observed Lent in the past…through prayer, fasting, a time of deep self-evaluation and repentance and will do so again this year! As a Christian, I would love to maintain this focus on the eternal as I go through everyday ordinary life! May God bless your time with him!

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25 Kara February 17, 2010 at 3:32 am

Thank you SO much for this post. I have never heard of Lent explained so eloquently…or explained at all, really. I have always thought it was a Catholic tradition, but I’ve realized that it’s just a time to “strip down” and get personal with God. This will be my first year for Lent, and I’m very excited!…and a little scared about giving up Facebook (GASP!). Thanks again!

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26 Mary Jean Taylor February 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm

You are such a beautiful writer! I totally agree with your “unplug”. I’ve done it before and it is always a good time to step back a bit. I’m sure you will be back with more inspiring words than ever before! Enjoy your time!

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27 Yanira February 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thank you for this post. I was raised catholic, but in the last few years I have strayed from the religion, because I have felt it lacking in what I needed spiritually. Just last night I was thinking that I will like to observe the time of lent, but honestly had no clue how to go about it, and to find your post today, it truly felt like a direct message from God. Thank you again!

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28 Sandra K February 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Hi Edie,

Thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking post. You and I are on the same wavelength, mama.

One of my Lenten resolutions this year is to be more present when I’m with my children. When I think of this resolution, this is the first scenario that comes to mind – they are playing in the living room and I’m in the home office, reading blogs. Why am I wasting my precious time at home with them, time I’ll dearly miss when they’re older, to stare at a laptop screen? I’m not proud of this at all. So less blog and Internet surfing and more playing Old Maid and Zingo, reading books, talking, drawing.

I can always spend 15-20 minutes reading the blogs after they are in bed at night.

Blessings,
Sandra

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29 Ruth February 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Edie~

Thank you for yet another challenging and inspiring post. I was raised evangelical and we never observed Lent. It is only recently and through blog land that I have come to realize the importance of this time. I love the quotes posted here from your pastor. I so wish there were a similar church in our area. My soul is hungry for the truth of God’s Word but in many churches here it is only fluff.

I will be reading this with my kids to help them better understand Lent. I am only now learning and thank you for sharing this vital information. I want them to learn about them much earlier than I did.

Ruth

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30 Ruth February 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Edie~

Thank you for yet another challenging and inspiring post. I was raised evangelical and we never observed Lent. It is only recently and through blog land that I have come to realize the importance of this time. I love the quotes posted here from your pastor. I so wish there were a similar church in our area. My soul is hungry for the truth of God’s Word but in many churches here it is only fluff.

I will be reading this with my kids to help them better understand Lent. I am only now learning and thank you for sharing this vital information. I want them to learn about them much earlier than I did.

Do you have a Lent resource that you like to use? Or a website that is helpful? I would like to incorporate it into our daily schooling until Easter.

Thank you,
Ruth

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31 Ruth February 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

What a great time with so many wonderful bloggers. You all look so very thrilled and like you are having a ball.

Ruth

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32 Shannon Wilson February 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I love your “Stray thoughts” b/c I am an evangelical and attend a non-denominational church and we as a church don’t observe the Lenten season. But, for the past 3 years I’ve personally observed it with giving up something (usually a food item-s) for 40 days. This time, I’m not giving up anything, but am “adding”. I’m adding more reflection time in the scriptures and prayer, being more intentional to serve others, using my time, talents and treasure to further His kingdom here on Earth.

Good thoughts and btw…..I totally enjoy your weblog!

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33 Jennifer February 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Hi Edie!

Once again you’ve amazed me with what you say and how you say it. I’ve shared some of your words on my blog with a link to yours (and giving you credit, of course!). Hope that’s okay…I just didn’t figure I could say it much better! Love your blog, as always!

Jenn
http://www.johnandjennrutherford.blogspot.com

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34 Kristi February 18, 2010 at 5:32 am

Thank you Edie, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you make me VERY curious about the Lutheran church. I even downloaded a “podcast” of issues, LOL! :) I have so many questions and keep searching the web for answers on it. Maybe you can answer a few….
Do children stay with adults for service (or is it called Mass?)
Do the children make their first communion like Catholics?
Do you practice confession with a priest (not sure if they are called that) or pastor?
I’m sure I have more, but it’s late again. Thanks Edie! I was born and raised Catholic but have “strayed” and attend a non-denom church (at my mothers dismay, lol). But always am curious!

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35 KB February 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Thank you Edie for sharing with us. The words you shared about Lent are being practiced in evangelical churches, maybe not in those you had attended, but I know of mine and others.

I grew up in a mainline denomination and we observed Lent. My experience was it was the only time of the year when the sermons focused on our personal relationship with Christ. Then the minister was back to telling good stories for the remainder of the year.

I appreciate the teachings of my pastors from non-denominational and evangelical churches as the majority of the sermons focus on Christ and an interpersonal relationship with him 24/7. From your writings I sense you are involved in a great church and your personal faith is stonger than it had been in the past. I love your book reviews of C.S. Lewis-I just ordered off of Amazon some of his works.

Continue sharing your love of Christ with us all!

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36 Sherri February 19, 2010 at 2:36 am

Good job Edie! I’m giving up the internet on Fridays during lent. Thanks for the post, your blog is such an inspiration to me. You are a wonderful woman inside and out!
-Sherri

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37 jenny February 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I think fasting the internet is a great thing! It is a great idea to fast some of the things we love sometimes just to get our focus back where it needs to be and to make sure that we have not allowed some of our blessings to become our masters….we can only serve one master.
I pray you have a wonderful time of rest in the Lord, renewing of you spirit and refreshing of your soul and mostly, that God would be glorified during this season in your life.

Blessings to you. :)

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38 Sandy February 22, 2010 at 4:25 am

I will come back and read all of this tomorrow. It is very good. Thank you for sharing. I have not observed Lent before, but am trying to now.

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39 Sandy February 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Thank you, so much, again, for this post. This was what I was looking for. I was led to your blog by Stacy, from Living by Faith.
Have a blessed week!

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40 Rynth Ley June 24, 2011 at 7:30 am

I like fishing, It reminds me always a summer day ,, We always to my papa”s native land and we always do a fishing there it was so great.. I like the picture and the topic. good day always!!!

http://procrastinationfreeliving.com/

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