Lenten Message From The Bishop
Editor’s note: Though Lent doesn’t begin until March 1, Bishop Tim wrote this in time for congregations to include it in their March newsletters or Lenten bulletins.
“Lent” actually comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word “Lencten,” which we would translate “lengthen,” referring to the lengthening of days or springtime. It begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter. The date of Easter fluctuates, determined as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
Lent is an introspective season, a time of spiritual inventory, of remembering our baptism and of recommitting to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and scripture reading. If you’ve fallen away from those practices, as is so easy for all of us to do, Lent is a gracious invitation to “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” As we follow the journey of Christ to Jerusalem where he will suffer and die, many people find “giving something up” for Lent to be a more constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ to which this season is heading. Again, such practices do not make us righteous. They can, however, ground us again in relationship with God in Christ and prepare us for the joy of our Easter celebration.
As Jesus heads to Jerusalem, we invite you to journey with him, draw closer to him, and as he bids us, grow closer to others. Blessings on the journey!
Shrove Tuesday - Fastnacht Doughnut Dinner
Traditionally, fastnachts are made to use up the lard, sugar, butter, eggs and other rich foods in a house before the austere diet of Lent begins.
In Catholic and Protestant countries, Fastnacht Day is also called "Fat Tuesday," or "Mardi Gras," a name which predates the Reformation and referred to the Christian tradition of eating rich foods before the Lenten fast began.
In some South American countries, the day is associated with Carnival, a festival of dancing, drinking and debauchery. "Carnival," which is the English spelling, derives from the words "carne levar," or "meat takeaway," another Lenten tradition.
Fastnacht can also be spelled in various ways, such as “fasnacht”, “fassenacht,” or “faschnacht.” The word “fastnacht” means “the night before the fast,” since the doughnuts are eaten the night before Lent, when fasting is usually observed by many Christians until Easter Sunday.
Making and eating fastnachts was a way to consume all the fats, such as butter and lard, kept in the house pantry, as these rich ingredients were seen as lavish and were not supposed to be eaten during the Lenten season.[
Give It Up For Lent! (courtesy of OldLutheran.com)
Throughout history a spiritual practice has been and continues to be giving something up for Lent. More recently, some have rather than giving something up added a new discipline to focus spiritual renewal.
Whether you plan to "Give up" something or "take on" something we have created a seven part resource with the theme "Give it up for Lent."
Seven words each with a slightly different look at what it means to "Give it up." Of course we have a "Give it up" T-shirt but we also have buttons that you can give to your study group, congregation or during a children's service. Each button has a different word that can be the theme of the week or part of a seven week Bible Study. Dig in, and discover what it means to "Give it up".
Give up. Refrain. Engage. Retreat. Sacrifice. Let Go. Thanksgiving. Accept.
Here is just a little start for you to dream, study and prepare to Give it up for Lent.
We can for a brief time in our life "give up" some vice or practice for a period of time. Perhaps we could refrain from drinking coffee for seven weeks so we better experience the joy or energy that it gives us when we drink it again on Easter Sunday. We refrain from eating dessert or drinking alcohol or watching television.
Another way would be to give it up in all caps with an explanation point as in to get really excited. GIVE IT UP! Lent is here and we can as a community of believers gather together and celebrate this often somber season in the church year. It could be completely possible to CELEBRATE Lent with our whole heart while we remain quite and contemplative.
What if we were to evaluate our lives and realize that we fight or resist a regiment of prayer and the use of scripture as a tool to experience our life of faith. What if we "Give up" the fight and actually spend more time in prayer or intentional relationship with God.
Different than giving up sweets or caffeine, sometimes we take life's comforts for granted. It is more difficult but could be much more poignant to actually sacrifice so that we can better understand those without such comforts. Could consider giving up" hot showers or warm blankets or your car for a time to experience the life of those less privileged?
Stress can be a badge of honor as we go through our daily lives. We can with great satisfaction proclaim that life is hard and I am muscling through. Imagine rather than embracing or enduring through stressful situations actually "Giving it up" to God in prayer.
We live in a do it yourself society. We are quick to accept the credit for our successes and accomplishments. What if it became more common place to "Give up" the credit to God. Recognize daily that day to day activities are a result of God given abilities.
Sometimes we need to be challenged to "give up" our prejudice or bias that keep us from experiencing a broader more diverse community.
However you "Give it up!" this year, be it avoiding, experiencing or retreating, we hope that these weeks leading up to the resurrection will fill your soul and guide you to "The peace that passes all understanding."
These 7 different ways to consider "Giving it up" could be the basis for conversation and a broader or more personal way to experience the act of "Giving it up." Seven ways to Give it up" Sacrifice, engage, retreat, let go, accept, thanksgiving, refrain.