Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Everyone can celebrate Lent

Lent is not just for Catholics anymore. You don't need to be from a liturgical tradition or even high church to celebrate Lent. In the Christian tradition Lent, the 40 days that precede Easter, is a time set aside for spiritual growth, inner reflection, and service to others.

Many Christians see Lent as a time for sacrifice. No meat. No chocolate. No TV. No cigarettes. You get the drift. Lent can be so much more than that. It is a time for spiritual reawakening. It is a time to reconcile with God. Even as the earth prepares for spring's rebirth, we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift of all, the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are some ways we can celebrate Lent to bring spiritual growth:
• Improve your focus on God. Stop doing the things that keep you from God. Is it TV? Parties? Overspending? Or something else? Eliminate or cut back and spend that time productively.
• Forgive somebody. An ancient tradition in the church was that, during Lent, those who had been ostracized for notorious sins were welcomed back into the fold.
• Pray. Ask God every day during Lent to tell you what he wants you to do.
• Attend worship. If you have fallen out of the habit of going to church, start back up. You're still welcome. No need to wait for Easter.
• Give stuff away. Go through your closet and pass along some things you no longer use.
• Read the Bible. Start with the Gospel of Mark. Read it all the way through or just a few passages a day.
• Join a small group Bible study or start one with your friends and/or neighbors. You could even start one during lunchtime at work.
• Visit someone at a nursing home. It could be a friend or relative or you can call and ask if they have an adopt-a-grandparent program.
• Volunteer for PADS or at a local food pantry.
• Do a kind deed for a neighbor, friend, coworker or relative.

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