Saturday, March 5, 2011

What shall we give up?

Sermons are a bit like meals, rarely remembered but if you go without them you soon loose weight – spiritual weight. Sermons feed the soul, spure the thought process and sometimes, just sometimes change our lives. There are few meals I can remember with exact detail just like there are only a few sermons I remember with any detail. Often a smell wafting buy rekindles the memories of a long digested but memorable meal. Likewise reading a piece of the Bible jolts us back to a sermon preached on the passage.

As Lent approaches I draw to mind some of memories of Lenten seasons from the past. Most urge the absentenace of something as a discipline. Sales of chocolate are reputed to fall during Lent. Giving something up for lent challenges our imaginations and we somehow often fail the test. What does God really want us to give up?

Two sermons during lent from past years come to mind. One by Sue Hope circa 1997-8 and one by Jonathan last year, both on the temptations of Christ, neither of which I can remember in other way, apart from I felt heartly fed afterwards!

In a world that propels us to be upwardly mobile, where success, power and wealth are held in high regard, Jesus turns his back on the temptation to be, as Henry Nouwen once put it  “powerful, relevant, and spectacular”, and not fall for the  great allure of Satan himself, as we humans often have and will………

One Lent, I gave up bringing paper work, home. How would I cope at work I thought? And yes, did I get everything done that I should? NO. Did it matter? NO. Did the jobs get done eventually? YES. It was a liberating period in my life. It was not my idea, it came from God. All too often we decide what to give yet we should ask God what to give up. Some Lents I don’t give anything up because I don’t feel called to do so.

Some pointers as to what you like to offer to God as a Lent discipline are:
Anything we feel you must do. Anything you depend on but do you real need it? Perhaps you need a break from something?

I feel God is calling us to give up something this Lent as a Church. The Peace. Instead of sharing the Peace with everyone. Lets stay in our pews and continue straight into the offertory hymn.

Sometimes it is just as important to start doing something in Lent as to stop doing something. Ask God to prompt you. What have you put off that you should really have done? 

This Lent let us avoid the temptation to try to be “powerful, relevant and spectacular” and instead focus as the letter to Philippians puts it “on taking on the nature of a servant”.