The observance of Lent is a common occurrence in the Catholic community, and more liturgical Protestant congregations. But it is not a significant part of our historical traditions. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be. Especially in light of the fact that, as was recently pointed out, we are, "prone to wander". What if we took some time in the next couple of weeks to look, openly and honestly, at our lives and determine what we can do, and not do, do draw ourselves closer to God? And what if we took it a step further and spent the six weeks in the run up to Easter doing, and not doing, those things? Have a look at some deeper thoughts on Lent.
*This year Ash Wednesday comes early—on [March 6th]! Whether we feel ready or not, this day marks the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season—six weeks that are set apart for the purpose of drawing closer to God and seeking him with greater intensity. Unfortunately, the Lenten season often gets reduced to the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” [We should also ask, "What am I adding for Lent?"] This is a fine question, but it can only take us so far. The real question of the Lenten season is, “How will I repent and return to God with all my heart?”
This begs an even deeper question: “Where in my life have I gotten away from God, and what are the disciplines that will enable me to find my way back?”...
Ash Wednesday initiates this season in which we are called to be as honest as we are able about the ways we have “left” God and slipped into spiritual mediocrity. “You desire truth in the inward being,” Psalm 51 points out, “Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.”
As God gives us wisdom and insight about our true condition, we can choose spiritual practices that are uniquely suited to help us return to God in the places where we have strayed or to renew our passion where our hearts have grown cold. The Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday (which are the same for Cycles A, B, and C [we are currently in Year C - lectionary readings may be found at https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/ ]) provide a good introduction to some of the concrete disciplines that have the potential to loosen the grip of sin and distraction in our lives—prayer and fasting, hiddenness, self-examination and repentance, forgiving others as we have been forgiven, and storing up treasure in heaven by giving generously to others...Left to ourselves, we probably would not choose to devote a whole season to such rigorous and demanding disciplines, but God knows we need it...
The purpose for engaging in Lenten disciplines is that we would become more finely attuned to our longing for God so we can seek him with all our hearts. Disciplines of fasting and other kinds of abstinence help us face the hold that our sin patterns have on us so we can somehow let go of our attachment to anything that is not God. As we wrestle with a more realistic awareness of the grip our attachments have on us, we enter into the godly grief that leads to repentance, and then forgiveness and freedom...
Begin your Lenten journey by saying something honest to God and reflecting on what you might “give up” or rearrange in order to create more space and passion for this most important relationship.
Think about it.
*excerpted from "Preparing For Lent - Returning To God With All My Heart" by Ruth Haley Barton
Full article - https://transformingcenter.org/2015/02/preparing-lent-return-god-heart/