‘I like to think of God as …..’

Yesterday was the First Sunday of Lent. I have not spoken much about Lent this year but there are plenty of other people doing so. I have not subscribed to the ‘give up something that is bad for me’ group as I am not sure, based on my readings and experiences of the last few years, that this is what Lent is all about. I have learned, mainly from Maggi’s writings, that Lent was originally about giving up the basics and essentials, i.e. the things that are good for us rather than luxuries, or bad habits, that are not that good and which people seem to be doing today.

I have noticed lots of people giving up Facebook for Lent … in my honest opinion … if so many people really think that Facebook is that bad for them to give it up for Lent (based on this newer idea of what Lent is about); then I question why they think it is ok to use it for the rest of the time?  I digress … but it follows that if we use Lent to give up luxuries that we are then using the season of Lent in a very different way to our ancestors. Giving up essentials will give a different meditative focus than giving up luxuries.

This year I am reading Giving it Up in the morning and using the Sacred Space for Lent book as part of my Compline in the evening. I particularly like Maggi’s book and am challenged by her teaching that Lent is about giving up our images of God that we have allowed to develop and allowing God the space to renew or refresh the images that we have.

I am inspired by this view of Lent as well as being heavily challenged by it. As I look back I hear myelf saying things like ‘I like to think of God as …..’ and realise that in some cases I have no idea how I have come to that way of thinking. I guess I am trying to use Lent this yer as a bit of an onion peeling process as far as how I ‘see’ God.

I’m not sure where this will go, it may lead to frustrating dead ends, but I hope not. So I am on a Lentern journey …. walking along the alleys of my life, hoping to rediscover the God that God wants me to rediscover.

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6 thoughts on “‘I like to think of God as …..’

  1. I think that, for many, giving up Facebook for Lent is a recognition that they spend rather too much time there and, hopefully, a sign that they are exploring better ways to use that time.Personally, my plan has been to give up "late nights", in the aim of making better use of time in the early morning before I go to work. Having done this in the past, I anticipate that the benefits will last beyond the point at which I give myself a bit more flexibility in that area again.

  2. I think Wulf is pretty close about why most people give up facebook but I think there might be something more to it. In my experience when I have given up things for Lent it has been more about fitting in and doing what everyone else is doing than about any sort of Lenten journey. But that might just be because there is usually lots of talk about what we are giving up and not so much talk about why… I hope you will write more about what you think Lent is all about Rob, I’m fascinated.

  3. those are great comments and I guess I have been struck by the very fact that mature people are categorising Facebook along with caffeine and chocolate as things they need to give up for lent. Jana – I think you hit on something when you talk about doing what everyone else is doing. From my reading I have learned that originally Lent would have been done together in that very way. There would not have been the personal choice thing we have today, everyone would have given up meat and dairy products. That was the expectation.There is a lot to be said for a community choosing to do the same thing and journey together and so support and encourage each other. Maybe at Lent our communities should attempt to journey together this way.I think the why is important too – I've carried out a little experiment over the last few days and asked people why they are giving up stuff; 'because it is lent' is the answer. When I press further 'because it's what we do at Lent' – there does not seem to be a lot of knowledge on why we do this ….Thanks for your comments – keep talking!

  4. I guess I wonder 1) why did communities originally choose to give up meat and dairy, what did it mean to them? and 2) why did it shift from something corporate to something individual? That shift seems like it could have the impact of really changing the meaning (not that all things individual are bad, just different) I find myself asking 'what is Lent all about???' At COTA there isn't really much talk about giving things up (chocolate, facebook etc). Our buzz words seem to include 'dying to self' and 'faithful wandering'. Its quieter (yes that is possible) and more reflective during services. Wulf, you seem to find meaning in giving up your late nights during lent. How has that influenced Lent for you?

  5. I find wakeful early mornings are a good start to the day. The trouble is that, as late nights chip away at the sleep I need, the morning space evaporates. Lent seems a good season to be more disciplined.I could go on to say that I think there might be a lot of strength in community decisions to find some form of shared fast… but my 10:30pm deadline is fast approaching! 🙂

  6. Janapeople originally gave up meat and dairy products as their understanding of Lent was to give up the basics and necessities of life to help re-focus on their existence being in God and of God. Lent seems, now, to have become a time for giving up luxuries which inevitably will give a different focus for the person during lent.I'm not quite sure why the focus has become more individual – other than reality being in the western world we seem to be becoming more individualistic in our lifestyles which I guess spills into our faith choices too. I am no expert but you might like to check out the series Maggi dawn wrote a few years ago on Lent. YOu can access them via this link:http://maggidawn.com/lent-2008/

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