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Lent Begins

February 18, 2015

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm141:3

I’m a Lutheran, born and raised, baptized at three-weeks old, and the daughter and stepdaughter of Lutheran pastors. Still, it took many years for me to devote myself to Lent.

I remember the intrigue of my Catholic friends in grade school. They talked about ‘giving up’ this or that for Lent. Unheard of in my Lutheran life. Still, it took many years for me to try it.

Later I discovered – and liked better – the idea of ‘taking up’ for Lent. Rather than pretending to sacrifice as Jesus did – I mean, really, could we ever sacrifice that much – I could take up a habit or behavior that is more God-like than my usual self.

Taking up patience. Taking up holding my tongue. Taking up generosity. Taking up daily scripture reading. Taking up loving my neighbor – you know that person who is hardest to love and needs it most.

And year after year, Lent after Lent, I keep trying. I keep promising to ‘take up’ patience. So I do … for about five minutes before I lapse and growl at the car ahead of me that isn’t moving. Or snap at my husband for something unimportant.

Failure then drapes itself over me to remind me that I’m still a sinner. A sinner. No matter how hard I try or how sincerely I vow to stop sinning, I am helpless.

God understands. His grace and gift of Jesus assure me that it’s ok and that He will help me. He allows me to start ‘taking up’ again on the Second Day of Lent. And the Third. And so on. Thank you, God.

This Lent, again, I take up fasting from judgmental words. Keeping silent whenever judgmental thoughts arise may help me become more aware of what triggers my judgmental attitudes. If we don’t speak judgmental words, we don’t pull others into the same judgmental spirit.

As you begin your Lenten journey to the joy of Easter, hold on to God’s promise of grace through faith alone.

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