Lent begins this month. Lent is the season of personal preparation for Easter. We are to take the next 40 days (not including Sundays) to make ourselves ready for the Resurrection event. Devotional books will be available this month for every family as well as the opportunity to gather change in a box for the Society of St. Andrew. The Society of St. Andrew focuses upon dealing with hunger. Among the things that they do is gathering volunteers to glean fields for the hungry. For instance, during the General Assembly in Columbus, volunteers bagged potatoes for food banks and soup kitchens. They bagged thousands of pounds in an afternoon. In Georgia St. Andrew gathers volunteers to gather apples to give to food pantries and soup kitchens. It’s something to think about as a congregation for the fall.

Many people think of Lent as a time to give up something. Usually what is given up is something we should avoid doing or manage better already. Maybe this year, rather than giving something up, add something. Add a specific time to read the Bible or devotional material; add a time to have family prayer; add a time for volunteering in some way; add a time for practicing spiritual discipline (meditation, fasting, or others. I have books that describe these disciplines).

Lent is a time that we are to be better prepared to receive the amazing blessing of God’s Grace. We DO NOT earn this Grace. It is freely given. This does not mean that we shouldn’t do anything, but rather, that we focus upon responding to the God who provides us with this opportunity.

We are challenged to pay attention to how well we love our neighbor, how we treat each other, how closely we follow the path that Jesus taught His disciples to follow. If in this time of reflection we discover places we fall short, we are challenged to do better. It is not a time to count the times we have failed, but instead to make the effort to do better. This isn’t a time to beat ourselves for our shortcomings. This is a time when we assess ourselves and find the places to improve. Think of it as preparing a TO DO List. We do not put a lifetime of things on the list, we don’t even put down a week’s worth of tasks. We are to list a single day’s list of things that can be accomplished in a reasonable day’s time. Our Lenten To Do List should focus on one aspect to improve at a time. If you don’t pray often enough, deliberately set a specific time to do so. If you can’t find the time to read the Bible, designate a daily time to do so.

This is how to develop our spiritual discipline; one step at a time, and not down loading it all at once. We didn’t learn to read on the first day that we tried. Over 40 days, new habits can be established and new gifts discovered. This is a journey worthy of your time.

Shalom, Darrell