Ritual Practices of Lent – It’s About Making a Choice

I didn’t like Lent when I was growing up. The ritual of giving something up for Lent brought familiar feelings of deprivation. Like many of you, I don’t like to feel deprived. So, the first time I heard about taking on something for Lent, I perked right up. I took on an attitude of gratitude for Lent one year and discovered patience I’d never known before. I adopt-ed a practice of praying when there was a traffic jam instead of getting angry and discovered a sense of calm that I could access more easily in any situation.

Basically, it’s about making a choice. The Lenten rituals we chose can be more meaningful if they involve a practice that sharpens our spiritual antenna; heightens our awareness of God-with-us. A ritual that is meaningful can be motivated by shame or guilt; your choice. I don’t find shame effective at all; in fact, shame can extinguish motivation for just about anything. Guilt, on the other hand, has its benefits. If I have the sense that I didn’t put enough effort into something, my guilt motivates me to do better next time. My very early motivation for learning more about anti-racism was a sense of guilt about my own privilege as a white person.

The ritual practices of Lent, when selected with your personality and the benefit to your spirituality in mind, can connect you to God in profound ways. The ritual in Sunday’s story from Genesis 15 and the rituals we practice daily – from the simplest shared meal to the prayers and movements of worship – are signs of God’s promise. Even though that promise is yet unfulfilled, we can trust God!
We move through the Season of Lent trusting God in our weakest moments and even at times when our journey seems too difficult. We may wonder if we can go on. And yet, we can find reassurance in the rituals that make up our spiritual practice.

May your involvement in Lent programming at Union inform your faith and form your spirit.

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