Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lent 2011: Sacrifice and ReLENTless Acts of Justice

This year, I am coordinating my season of Lent with World Vision’s program for Lent. World Vision's Act:s Group is calling their program, “Lent 2011: Relentless Acts of Justice.” I will be sharing personal reflections as well as reflections from World Vision. I hope that as you reflect on this essential time in our faith you are impacted and moved into action for Jesus.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, Ash Wednesday puts emphasis on repentance as we seek forgiveness for the evil in our hearts…we do indeed need God to renew us.

My Ash Wednesday Reflections: Sacrifice. The beginning of Lent is a time when many Christians decide to “give up” some things in their lives in order to free up time/resources for Jesus and His Kingdom. We give up everything from sweets, to excessive TV, to facebooking. I have even done things like this before. But I am quickly convicted that my “sacrifice” looks nothing like the sacrifice of our heroes or fellow followers of the faith we see in the Bible. Just last week I was reading the story of Hannah and Samuel again. Let me refresh you on it…

Hannah was barren, unable to have children (1 Sam. 1:6). To make things worse, her husband had another wife who was able to bear children and would “provoke” Hannah and demean her. Hannah bore this continual burden and pleaded to the Lord in direct, earnest, raw prayer for relief. She made a vow (1 Sam. 1:11) to Yahweh that if she would just be “remembered” by Him (interesting word to choose) and be allowed bear children, she would “give him (the child) to the Lord all the days of his life.” We see later on in this account that the Lord blessed Hannah with a son and she named him Samuel. But this is where the story takes an “oh my goodness, what a sacrifice” turn. As soon as Hannah WEANED (as in...a youth) little, precious Samuel, her only son, she brought him to the priest (Eli) of the Temple and left him there to serve the Lord. She…left…him…there…

Her only son.
Went back home.
Barren Hannah got her desire, her dream….and gave it up.
She gave up a son, her only son.
Talk about sacrifice.

Of course, this is one story in hundreds that could be told of biblical characters sacrificing.
Real sacrifice.
Like, earth shattering sacrifice.
A little different than me giving up….coffee for a month….

God, forgive me this Ash Wednesday for my little faith and for only allowing you to have a little lordship in my life.

World Vision Act:s Reflections. Today is Ash Wednesday – which marks the beginning of Lent. Starting Sunday, we will emulate Christ’s incarnation through six real-life stories. Before receiving the first story, we will prepare our hearts so that we will be receptive to God’s voice.

Ash Wednesday traditionally emphasizes repentance, so we will spend some time in prayer.

Take the next 10 minutes to reflect on your own shortcomings and where you need God’s strength. Over the next six weeks, we are bound to experience discomfort in the contrast between our day-to-day lives and those who do not live with our same luxuries. Join us in praying for God’s wisdom and guidance as we wrestle with this tension and seek to better emulate Christ’s incarnation. Praise God for his love and forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ.

As you begin, we offer this Franciscan blessing to you:

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