Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lent: Transformation, Not Denial

In the God's Politics blog (Sojourners), author Julie Clawson writes a great piece about Lent and the practice of sacrifice.  This reflection really speaks to me.
But for a long time I thought it was. Everything I heard about Lent revolved around acts of self-denial. It was all about what object or habit one would give up and how hard it was to deny oneself of that thing. Of course that denial was meant to help one think about God and Christ’s sacrifice, but in truth the focus was always on the act of denial itself. The question always is, “what are you giving up for Lent?” as if that is what the season is about.

On one hand it’s understandable that we miss the point of Lent. In our religious traditions rituals and legalism are far easier to promote, understand, and implement than spirituality and faith. We can grasp rules. It is far easier to tell kids to obey rules than to explain to them why they should desire to act rightly. They then end up following the rules simply because the rules exist. When it comes to Lent we often do the same, denying ourselves something for the sake of denial. We give up chocolate or Facebook, thinking the act of denial is the purpose of Lent. And we end up missing the point.

But Lent isn’t about denial; it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ’s sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ like ourselves.
Read full reflection

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