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11 February 2013

This year, as every year, I try to be intentional about the journey of Lent.  Last year, it seems, my Lenten journey brought me to New Zealand.  Nonetheless, I start off each Lenten season with great intentions to do some extra prayer, meditation, study, reflection and to fast from things that seem to get in my way of these things.  Things such as the internet, Facebook, coffee, sugar, anger, politics...the list is almost endless.

One of the things I've noticed this year is that I spend an awful lot of my spare time sitting with my laptop in the lounge, while my partner sits on the opposite couch with hers and we're just there, not really talking to each other and doing what?  I don't know.  Facebook is really boring, and yet I spend a lot of time there.  I spend time on GCN and sometimes I look at some news item or blog post from someone I follow.  But most of the time is really a waste.  During the spring (that would be fall for my Northern Hemisphere readers) I decided that I could spend that time doing something else and so I signed up for an online course on "The Diaconate" through the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.  I wasn't really that engaged in it for some reason.  Partly, it was because my book arrived several weeks into it (because I only got the reading list a week before, way too late to get a book to NZ).  Partly, it was because everyone else in the class was in North America and were in some way already engaged in the discernment process while I am still exploring and not in a parish where it is even possible for me to be ordained to the Diaconate.

The point is that I have determined that there are way better things for me to do with my time than sit with my laptop in the lounge of an evening and fiddle around with Facebook and other mindless websites.  So one of the things I'd like to do (and in writing it here, am stating my intention to do) is to blog through Lent.  I'd like to work through the Lectionary readings for the days of Lent and write some reflections.  One year I committed to getting up early to do some Centering Prayer.  Another year I committed to getting up early to walk the dog for 20-30 minutes in the morning while doing a walking meditation (unplugging from the iPod for the walk was a real challenge).  Both of those years, I stated the intention and I stuck with it.  I got back to it when I missed a day or two, rather than scrapping the whole plan.  I intend to do that this year too.  I hope that my readers, few as they are, will hold me to it. If you don't see a post for a few days or a week, please push me!

If anyone has ideas about topics or readings for me to reflect on, I'm open to hearing about them.  If anyone has suggestions for how one creates and sticks to a discipline such as this, please share them.

Lent is about repentance, turning our hearts and lives around to follow Jesus to the cross.  It's about reflecting on the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ as he walked the way of persecution and torture all for my sake.  I know there are readers out there who take issue with this characterisation of both Lent and of the meaning of the sacrifice of Christ and what atonement means.  Post-modern liberal theology says that we're all "ok" just as we are.  Yes, to an extent that is true...we are all accepted and unconditionally loved by God.  But "ok?"  No, I am most definitely NOT "OK" as I am.  I am imperfect, undisciplined and repeatedly fail to do the things that I "intend" to do and that I know are right and I persist in doing self-serving things which serve no useful purpose.  The purpose of this is not to beat myself up but to own up to my weaknesses so that I can surrender them to the care of a loving God who wants so much to be in relationship with me that God became Human and took on ALL of the suffering that we brought upon ourselves so that we can be set free from the power of the sin.

So, in my first post about Lent (which only starts in 2 days), I am becoming an apologist for my faith which is something that I think is vitally important for all people of faith.  I need to understand and explain why I am passionate about my faith.  Blogging about it will not only help me to become clear on that but in the process, maybe someone will read it and get something out of it.

The first of the Collects for Ash Wednesday list in the NZ Prayerbook is:
Jesus, holy and strong,
by your fasting and temptation teach us self-denial;
control and discipline us, 
that we may learn to obey.

May it be so.

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