28 February, 2007

Our Family Lenten Journey

Almost 20 years after coming to a new understanding of what the Easter season is truly about, this year will be different for the Clowers crew. The season of Lent has been one this family has never truly participated in... until this year. Several weeks ago I received a gift from friends at Regal Publishing; a book called "The Passionate Journey" by Marty Bullis. It's a 40 day devotional that guides us on a "journey of darkness towards the light of Easter".

Our journey began the week before Ash Wednesday as I announced to the family we would be making a sacrifice for the season of Lent. As you can imagine there were many questions like "Why do we have to go without something?" "What's the big deal?" I explained that Lent is a gift from God that gives us an opportunity to practice sacrifice and to deliberately take 40 days to reorient our lives using Jesus' death and resurrection as our compass.

We met the evening of Ash Wednesday and used Matthew 26 as our foundation. It's the story of the woman who came to Jesus with the Alabaster jar of very costly ointment and poured it on Jesus' head. He declared that she had just "prepared Him for burial". Our Lenten experience is designed to do just that - prepare us to die daily to ourselves and remind us to prepare for a future death when we will lay down our physical bodies and walk into His presence for all eternity.

We've also learned that Lent is best observed in community and that as a family, we would participate together. The children were anxious to learn what our "denial" would be. "Video games... tv... movies... soft drinks... candy... chocolate." Each child waited to hear what Dad would proclaim would be our sacrifice.

Imagine their relief when I told them they would need to decide for themselves what they would give up for Lent. However, I told them one practice we would start for Lent is to rise 15 minutes earlier each morning and spend the time studying the Bible and praying together. And because the Lenten sacrifice is personal but not private, I told them that on our first morning together, we would share what each of us would give up.

Each of the children took this very seriously and the next morning, we heard of commitments to go without chocolate (mom), all things sweet (dad), caffeinated beverages (Josiah), television and do more reading (B.J), and candy (Kimmy). And we we're off. Today is day 7 of our adventure and so far... so good! Of course, I think their biggest sacrifice when we look back at Easter will have been to sleep 15 minutes less everyday. Please don't tell them - I don't think realized that!

So here we go... 40 days to recover the rhythm of grace, focus on the amazing life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and rediscovering as a family that "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow (Him) cannot be (His) disciple" - Luke 14:27.

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