Saturday, February 6, 2016

Give it up for Lent!

Lent begins on Wednesday, February 10, and ends on Saturday, March 26. What will you give up for Lent this year? What will you deny yourself?

It's almost trendy to sacrifice something for Lent. "What are you giving up for Lent this year?" we ask each other. Then we proudly brag, "I'm giving up chocolate." "I'm giving up always being late." "I'm giving up Facebook."

Jesus said, "When you fast…don't do it publicly, as the hypocrites do…but put on festive clothing, so that no one will suspect you are hungry" (Matthew 6:16-18, Living Bible). His message made clear that fasting is a transaction in mind, not in public displays. As we deny in our bodies, our minds are filled with higher thoughts.

Fasting—giving up something—teaches us not to worry about the material world. When we give up a luxury for Lent, we do more than show piety; we increase our spiritual power. We deepen our spiritual communion. In essence, we create within ourselves space to be filled with the presence of that which created us.

Deny and Affirm

Denial can be the first step toward understanding what we want to affirm in our lives. When we deny weakness, for example, we must be conscious that we are affirming strength. In denying poverty, we affirm abundance. This is because that which we deny actually has no existence in Spirit. By denying what the human sees as real, we realize what eternally exists: the unchangeable truth of Spirit.

This Lenten season, choose something important to you that you are going to sacrifice during the forty days. Then don't tell anyone. In this way, you will move through the season focused on self-transformation.

Equally important in the Lenten sacrifice, once you've chosen your denial, choose an affirmative action you will take in opposition to this. This is the "festive clothing" Jesus refers to when he tells us to act as if we are not in a state of lack or denial. For example, in choosing to deny yourself a particular food, you might then choose to donate a food item each day to a local food bank. Should you decide to give up a habit, such as watching news programs in the evening because of the constant barrage of negativity, use that time to give back something good in like deed to your community.

Then, make the giving from your denial an act that you commit every day of Lent. Forty days is a long time! We need the daily positive reinforcement to keep us moving forward. Take one item to the food bank each day. Do a good deed for a neighbor on each one of the forty Lenten days.

Practicing Lent in these ways, your question will not be "What will I give up for Lent this year?" but, "What will I give?"

A Daily Guide to Lent

Daily readings throughout the time of Lent keep your mind focused on your goals as you move through the season. Charles Fillmore’s Keep A True Lent is a valuable, gender-neutral guidebook for your personal journey through the Lenten season. 

The first half of Keep a True Lent explores the fundamental ideas and concepts of Lent from a spiritual and metaphysical perspective. In this section, Fillmore discusses such topics as Faith Thinking, The Affirmative Word, The Christ in You, Reincarnation, God’s Abundance, and more.

The second half of Keep a True Lent offers a daily reading for each of the forty days of Lent, each reflecting a unique aspect of the season. Corresponding with the time-honored Bible reading for that specific day, each day explores a different Lenten theme, followed with a series of questions for the reader, and ending with a personal affirmation for that day.

"The Lenten Sacrifice" was originally published at Antonia's Senior Moments.

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