First week Lenten check in
How is your relationship with God growing these Lenten days? I hope you are finding it helpful and renewing to take time each day for doing something positive and finding ways of reconnecting with God through taking a few moments for a prayer break throughout your day.
I am finding renewal through praying three times a day. I read aloud a Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer in the morning, again at noon, and in the evening; either at sunset or right before going to bed. Reading aloud is a key ingredient as it helps me pay attention to the words both as I read them and as I hear them. This practice for a little less than a week has already begun to open me to the needs of others. After I pause to pray and read aloud, my heart recalls others I want to pray for, so the “pump is already primed” for further prayers as I have time. As I start my day, pause at noon and before ending my day, I feel more connected to God and to others for whom I pray, as well.
When I first started praying at set times I would forget or get busy and flow past the time, but very soon I realized that setting an alarm on my watch or my phone to remind that it’s time to pray helped a great deal. Now when the alarm gently sounds, I remember and look forward to time to pray. In the middle of the day, I can stop wherever I am and at least pray the Lord’s Prayer, if I don’t have time or a Bible handy in order to read a Psalm, too. I have come to look forward to that time, and it helps me make it through my day feeling more at ease. At night I have noticed that I also have an easier time falling asleep.
How have you been noticing joy through your Lenten days? How have you given yourself a few moments daily to recognize God’s presence, or to just breathe and be thankful? I hope your time of taking a Lenten break each day is helping you feel connected, loved and encouraged. I believe it is God’s desire to be with us and be known throughout our days. Please share your experiences with others. Sometimes hearing another’s experience draws us into trying some new ways of experiencing God’s Spirit.
I lift you all in my prayers asking God’s blessings as we journey together seeking the renewal and refreshment with which our God longs to gift us.
Take Something Up for Lent
Entering my office, I went right to the calendar hanging on my wall and gave February a good tug and tossed it into the same recycling bin that received January 27 days ago. Calendars are an important way of marking the passing of time. The liturgical calendar is a way the church has marked time for hundreds of years. This Sunday, the church sets aside time to follow Jesus, Peter, James and John to the mountaintop where Jesus will be changed before their eyes, surrounded in a cloud of glory, marking for us the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season.
Lent as a Time of Rest and Renewal
The season of Lent is a time of renewal in spiritual disciplines, and often our worship takes on the character of being somber, the music often filled with slow tempo, minor keys that to some sound like dirges. This year, worship planners noted that there is plenty of doom and gloom surrounding us in everyday living, so we planned for worship to be like an oasis in dry, desert times. As people of Hope, we are planning for worship to be meditative, refreshing, deeply engaging, and steeped in opportunities for resting in the presence of God and receiving life-giving water for our souls. This will take some real effort on our part, and some may miss the traditional ways of worshiping during Lent, but I feel certain we can and will grow in spirit and in being the body of Christ at worship with time for preparation during the week, and an openness of spirit as we gather in worship each Sunday and in our various activities throughout the season of Lent, leading us to the glorious celebration of Resurrection on Easter Sunday in April.
Take Something up this Lent
Throughout the season of Lent, I ask that everyone participate in some spiritual growth exercise. Some find it helpful to “give up something” for Lent. I invite you to “TAKE UP SOMETHING” during Lent. By this, I mean pick one activity that feeds your soul and lifts your spirit. Think of it as dedicating yourself to once each day to be intentional, to act simply, to step out of the usual. Here are some things you can do:
Of course, this list is endless, so choose something that gives you pause and in doing so moves your focus away from the routine and focuses upon the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. The point is to take time during the 40 days of Lent to spend a few moments dedicated to feeding your spirit and nurturing your soul, which is another way of saying spending time with God. As we take a few moments out of our routine, I believe it puts us in touch with God, and feeds our spirits, and renews our souls. Lenten discipline doesn’t have to be solemn, dirge-like drudgery, but opens us to moments of rest and renewal.
Bless you BIG TIME as you remember to BE the church!
Pastor Chuck Goodman has been pastor at Hope for nearly ten years. He writes each week about what's on his mind, giving readers something to meditate on until and beyond Sunday.