Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Each year I struggle with Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. I did not grow up in a liturgical environment and now pastoring in a United Methodist Church makes this a little challenging. My biggest struggle this year is how to make Lent fresh for my congregation. Our Ash Wednesday service is in five hours. I better figure it out quickly.

On Sundays I will continue to preach through the book of Philippians until Palm Sunday. But for myself, and for my congregation, this is not enough for Lenten discipline. Therefore, I will be challenging myself, and my congregation, as well as all readers, to do the following:
  1. Worship regularly. For most of us worship only takes an hour or two each week. Spend time in church. Or, if that is too big of a stretch, spend the next six weeks exploring churches. Haven't found one you like? Try a different one next week.
  2. Make sacrifices. For most of us in USA our sacrifices are somewhat embarassing. In light of the hunger, oppression and poverty around the world, what is it to give up chocolate for six weeks? Nevertheless, make a sacrifice. For the next six weeks I will not be drinking pop. It doesn't seem like much, but it is something.
  3. Reflect and repent. The reason that you sacrifice is to focus on your reflection and repentance. God will show you how you have screwed up your life. Ask him for forgiveness.
  4. Spend time in prayer, meditation and reflection. For most of us, if we would start to offer prayers before meals and bedtime it would be an increase in our prayer time. If we were to read three verses from the Bible each day, it would be an increase. You do not have to become a monk, but make some changes.
  5. Love other people. Listen to someone else. Care about individuals you meet. Have compassion on others.

There is my challenge for these six weeks. Who is game?

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