It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 6th

Make sure you don't pray or fast or give to the poor, just so others will see you. If you just show off, you will not receive a reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:1

It's Lent again. The time of self denial. The time to pray more, fast, and give to others. Those statements almost have the sound of drudgery. The little child in all of us cries out, "Do I have to?!"
We might feel some reluctance to "celebrate" Lent, for the season means a change in daily routine. But, instead of changing routine, we might consider changing its focus. Turn away from the self and see the wider picture. That's what Jesus recommended when he addressed prayer, fasting, and almsgiving

The forty days of Lent help us to prepare for Easter, the greatest Sunday of all! Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts five and a half weeks

On Ash Wednesday services a priest, deacon, or other minister will make the Sign of the Cross on a our foreheads with ashes. And we will hear words like “Repent and believe the Good News.” The ashes remind us that we will die one day. The message we hear encourages us to trust God. He cares for us now. And he will care for us after we die.

The Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent is always the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Jesus had embarked on a kind of retreat - a time apart from the world in which to discern what God wanted Him to do - what God wanted Him to be. He uses one of the classic spiritual disciplines of fasting to help to focus His prayer - taking it to such lengths that, after 40 days, He would have been physically very weak and, it would seem, very susceptible to temptation
With each temptation, Jesus gets stronger until in the end He dismisses Satan from Him - Jesus is the one in command of the situation - Jesus is in command of Himself

On the five Sundays in Lent, we hear about the temptations Jesus endured (First Sunday of Lent), how he showed his friends his glory (Second Sunday in Lent), and the journey he took to Jerusalem. These Sundays lead us step by step to the most important week in the Church year: Holy Week

The sadness of Holy Week ends with the joy of Easter. Jesus is risen from the dead! He is alive! He will never die again! Because he lives forever, we will live forever with him!

Each Lent, we enter a spiritual wilderness. It is meant to be a challenging time - a time to develop a spiritual maturity. We live in an age when the importance of having our needs met is recognised - but as Christians, we sometimes have to remember that, ultimately, our needs can only be fulfilled by God.

Lent is a time to ask ourselves a simple question. Why do we act as Christians? If our answer gravitates more towards ourselves than others, it is time to reassess our motivation. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are only means to an end. We practice them to open ourselves up to God and the needs of others. So, during Lent, we should focus on relationship, not on reputation. When we sincerely seek God's will and the good of others, reputation will follow, for good or ill.

Lent is a time for self reflection and for action. Lent is not a time to merely "give up something." It is a season to do something. For others. And for God.
It is a time to focus the heart

'On Ya' - ma

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