Monday, February 18, 2013

A Peace of Lent

My daughter inspired me to sacrifice for Lent.  She has determined to abstain from chocolate for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Meanwhile, my wife is forgoing snacks after supper.  Whether motivated by peer pressure, guilt, or actual spirituality, I thought I should also give up something during the season.

Because I don’t follow the church calendar very strictly, I needed to remind myself of the history behind Lent.  The tradition began in the early centuries of the church, as a 40-day period of fasting, leading up to Easter.  With fasting six days per week, excluding Sundays, the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes at Easter.  The sacrifices we make during this season call us into the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus.  The term Lent derives from the German word for “long” or “spring,” as the days grow longer this time of year.

I remember making Lenten sacrifices as a teenager.  One year I chose to give up afternoon TV.  I gave up detailed knowledge of sordid affairs on the soap operas for bonus time playing outside or even doing homework.  It really changed my life, and I never went back.

This year I am giving up listening to the radio in the car.  Normally I listen to some music, and lots of talk radio.  It does help me stay informed, but a little goes a long way.  Now, as I drive, I enjoy peace.  I'm praying more, observing more, and thinking more.

I may be less informed.  But I'm probably more informed about the things that really matter.

When I get in the car, I still catch myself reflexively reaching for the radio knob.  I’m working against a deeply ingrained habit. 

I can't begin to compare my sacrifice with the suffering of Jesus.  I'm barely giving anything up.  I'm listening more to God, and tuning in to eternity.  Looks like I'm the one receiving the gift. 
That's how Jesus rolls.