Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts Running Around In My Head

The cross as it looked at the front of our sanctuary
this evening for our Ash Wednesday service.
So today is Ash Wednesday. Being a Christian of the Mennonite persuasion I didn't really grow up with Lent. It has become a bit more prevalent in my denomination today, and tonight I went to the Ash Wednesday service at our church. And yes, I got marked with ashes. (Sam didn't go to the service but he was very curious about the ashes so after the service, our pastor said I could mark a cross on Sam's hand. I told him we had a cross on us so we could remember that "Jesus died for us." He was very serious and looked at his cross and then he said, "Don't tell anyone I have a cross. I don't want to talk about it." I thought it was rather startling that he recognized the personal aspect of Ash Wednesday.) I started observing Lent a little more when I worked with a Christian human rights organization about a decade ago and there were some Catholics in our group. And you know what, the idea of giving something up for Lent appealed to me. Over the years, I mostly gave up chocolate.

Yesterday morning in my Bible study (Stepping Up by Beth Moore), Beth was talking about how we fill our empty spaces with things which aren't God. She had a empty vase which she filled with objects we might fill our lives with instead. And, as she sometimes does, she went off on a bit of a tangent when she got to the cell phone part of her illustration. She talked about how we, as a society, have moved to being connected ALL. THE. TIME. And that we think WE'RE so important we "HAVE TO BE" 100% available to our cell phone, our e-mail, etc.  She posed the question, "Are we scared of silence? Are we scared of stillness? What about Psalm 46:10?"

Psalm 46:10 reads:
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

All this really appealed to me and I was even more convicted about what I am giving up for Lent this year: Facebook. Last year I didn't check Facebook once during the entire (long!!!) Lenten season and it was REALLY hard. But it was also good for me and I could tell that. I also liked the idea of adding in something so I added in "reading the Bible everyday." I wasn't as diligent about that one though. This year I am doing it again -- no Facebook, more Bible reading. I just finished Exodus yesterday (whew! That was one long denouement about the construction of the Tabernacle of the Lord and the priestly garments.) and am heading into Leviticus. I'm pretty sure I've never read it that book all way through so this should!? I think a lot of people give up food related things for Lent (maybe I'm wrong???) but I like the idea of thinking of this as a spiritual diet rather than a physical one. To me, giving up Facebook and reading more of the Bible is like giving up junk food and eating vegetables and protein instead. Does that make any sense?

And for the past couple of days I've had the thought that if I was really serious about stillness and silence and how connected I am to my computer I'd probably give up my blog for Lent (and reading blogs and commenting on blogs) but I am not that convicted yet. Maybe next year??? Maybe for this year I'll attempt to check my Blogger feed less often during this Lenten season but I'm not making any promises. Just like if I decided to give up junk food for Lent I wouldn't have picked Coke this year. I'm just not ready to make that commitment yet :) What about you, are you giving up/adding in anything for Lent this year?

And I'm going to end this post with the scripture I've been working on (in a loose sense of the phrase) these past two weeks for the memorizing challenge. I feel like maybe there's a message in there for me regarding my Lenten thoughts.

2 Corinthians 8:5
And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

I had some of this post written before I went to the service tonight, and during the scripture reading I found the verse I will be attempting to memorize for the latter half of February. It is Psalm 51:17 and it also seems like an appropriate Lenten verse.

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
     a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


  1. Hmmm, I think I could give up Facebook, and I can definitely see the need too. It is such a time waster, and I get no fulfillment from checking it anymore. All I ever read on there is junk now. I don't feel like blogger is the same. I can limit what I read, and I try to read what gives me fulfillment in some your posts that are uplifting. We are like pen pal life group buddies offering encouragement and companionship. I think Christians need that! I may have to join you on the giving up of Facebook...I have already pretty much quit any other forms of social media like twitter and instagram which I never really got into. I could easily give up pinterest too. Thanks for inspiring me as usual!


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