The Intentional Way

Lent: the 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter; a time for penitence and reconciliation; a time to fast, a time to do more; a time of discovery, a time to journey. In Lent we are invited to embrace an intentional way of life, which is not the easy way, but the deliberate way. By stepping outside our comfort zone, either by fasting from a habit or by adding a devotional or another new habit, we use these forty days to follow the example of Jesus in the wilderness. 

When I was in high school, a common topic of conversation and discussion around this time of year was the comparison of what each of us might be giving up for Lent. While most of my classmates chose (or had chosen for them) the fairly standard ideas of dessert, television or video games, there were also a few non-standard fasts which were picked more as a self-dare to see if the person who chose a particular habit could actually go forty-six days without indulging. Once my classmates asked me if I was giving anything up for Lent. I gave my peers a puzzled look and said, deliberately confused, "Nothing - I am adding volunteer activities with my church youth group. I'm Presbyterian: I don't need to give anything up, but we are supposed to live in such a way that we respond to the needs of people who are less fortunate that ourselves." That was the day I learned that everyone's faith journey does not need to match my own for it to be equally valid!

At the Ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service, Rev. Dr. Sherri Meyer-Veen spoke of letting go of perfectionism, guilt, business, and other similar voices and inclinations that restrict ourselves from living the full and complete life we are meant to lead; "time for perfectionism to die a good death." Those words flowed into my mind, my soul, and felt as if they hydrated spiritual soil. No matter how well the seed is planted, nothing can grow in our souls without the proper nourishment and care. These forty days are our chance to discover the seeds planted and raise them up. You can do this by following a Lenten discipline, or by choosing to forgo a habit, or by adding something else intentional to your day. If you choose to give up something for Lent, you will be tempted to cheat. If you add a discipline, whether a devotional reading or volunteering your spare time, you will have days when it feels like the day is too busy to follow your disciple. The purpose of the disciple, of whatever nature, is not merely to experience a taste of the temptation Jesus experienced in the wilderness, but to cultivate intentionality and mold us to be receptive to the grace we have been granted and enable us to feel God in our lives. 

~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd

For links to different spiritual disciplines, follow the links below

Nadia Bolz-Weber House for all Sinners and Saints

2019 Photo a Day Challenge for Lent

Princeton Seminary

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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