Thursday, February 14, 2013

Giving Up Something for Lent?

...Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses... -- Matthew 6:11-12 (KJV)

Lent started officially yesterday.  It is a common practice for people to think of something to give up for the six weeks until Easter.  It is done as a part of the historic spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and self-denial.  There is a certain frivolous aspect to the things people choose to give up.  For instance, take a look at this one-minute video on Facebook: First World Problems.

If we think we are associating ourselves with something sacrificial and thereby have insight into the sacrifice Christ made for us - think some more.

If we think we are earning something by giving up chocolate or overeating without putting more time into prayer, meditation, devotion, and service - think again.

If we come to the realization that ALL we have is not ours, that more than 95% of what we do have or want is not necessary then we are beginning to see the beginning of the spiritual journey.

Jesus Christ, son of the God of Love, spoke to us and listed the three things that we each need when he taught us to pray the prayer many of us recite every time we go to church:
  1. The time we have today.
  2. Bread enough for today.
  3. Forgiveness.
If we have these three everything else is superfluous and COULD be given up.  As Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-23), following Christ was most important over everything else the man had or could do.

If giving up something for Lent helps you in a symbolic way to be reminded that everything belongs to God, then give it up.  But, what is really required of you is to follow.  Spend the hours of today that you have been given being kind and serving Christ.  Enjoy simple meals to sustain your body; forgive, forgive, forgive.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Give Us This Day

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves; We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.   2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (ASV)
 We wrestle with our two natures.  We have a here-and-now-present nature that we could label our physical self (our earthen vessel.)  Second, we have a spiritual nature that allows us to "time travel;" that is, to look ahead to the future and believe that we can "see" what is going to happen.  Our spirit nature is the source of worry; it is the source of our thinking we have more power to dictate the future than we actually have.  Only God can be the Director of the future, but we often wrap ourselves in a battle against a future we dread, or chase after a future we crave.  

Sarah Young has written Jesus Calling.  A sentence in her devotion for today spoke to this ever-present way where we launch ourselves into the future: "How ridiculous to grasp for future gifts when today's is set before you!"  Give us this day (pause), (and) our daily bread could be another way to put the line from the Lord's Prayer.  Stay in today.  Daily Jesus Christ is born into our hearts, dies for us, rises again, and sends the Holy Spirit.  To the degree we worry only about today and stay present in just today we live out the life of our Savior's grace poured out for each of us.  Don't borrow worries from tomorrow where there is plenty of pressure, despair, and misery living in our imagination.  Today has all the resources through Christ we need for this moment's challenges.

God in heaven, hallowed by your name.  Give us this day.  Give us today's bread.  Let your will be ours on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.