Wednesday, February 26

Lent, Remixed: Shoving the Bunny Over.

A fresh perspective on an old tradition.
Am I the only one who gets slightly perturbed at the sight of bunnies, everywhere, during the Lenten season?  

Every year, I find myself struggling to shift the focus off the bunny and to pull Christ back into the center of our Easter preparations.  

And then, last year, I realized that Lent is the perfect way to prepare my family's hearts for Easter. 

Although my childhood church observed the season with several Lenten traditions that I cherished, I never understood the “why” behind Lent. And, as an adult, when the churches I attended did not observe Lent, my Lenten observances lapsed into distant but fond childhood memories.

It wasn’t until I was reminiscing with two friends over coffee on a cold January day last winter that the question of “why” was resurrected. That night, with my family was tucked safely into bed and sleeping soundly, I turned to Google and typed: “Why do we celebrate Lent?”

Wow. What I discovered was both beautiful and amazing.

For the uninitiated, Lent is the roughly 40 days leading up to Easter in which some Christians pray and abstain from meat and other items. Different church denominations count days differently (some count Sundays, others don’t) and have different traditions about how to fast, what items to fast from, and when to fast. 

Rather than get bogged down in the nuances of each domination, I focused on researching two things: Why 40 days? And why fast?   

Although it is not a biblical command, there seems to be spiritual significance to the number 40 as a time of preparation, praying, and fasting before hearing from God.  

Both Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:2-13) fasted and waited 40 days before they received instruction from God.

But, most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert before he began his public ministry (Matthew 4:2).  

And so, in the tradition of Moses, Elijah, and Christ himself, many Christians observe Lent for the 40 days (minus Sundays) before Easter Sunday preparing, fasting, and praying as we wait to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   

We over at The Ruth Experience so love the significance and symbolism behind the Lenten tradition that we are going to observe Lent this year, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5 (we will actually start on Monday, March 3). And we would love for you to join us in our Lent Remixed, regardless of your denomination.

This is the plan: Beginning Monday, March 3 and continuing for the next seven weeks we will focus on praying for one country and one cause each week leading up to Easter Sunday.  As part of our weekly prayers, we will fast one item.  Because we'll focus on different items and different countries each week, you can join us at www.theruthexperience.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/TheRuthExperience as your schedule and life allows -- but we hope you'll consider joining us for all seven weeks.  

Or, create your own Lenten tradition with your own causes and items fasted. To get you started, we’ll happily share what we're planning on doing this year:

Week 1: Praying for Ethiopia, focusing on clean drinking water (internationally) and participating in UNICEF's Tap Project (10 minutes away from phone = 1 day of clean water to a child).

Week 2: Praying for India, focusing on orphan care, and living at the poverty level for a week.

Week 3: Praying for Syria, focusing on access to eduction, and performing a daily Random Act of Kindness for a complete stranger.

Week 4: Praying for Somalia, focusing on famine/hunger, and fasting from two evening meals during the week (adults only).

Week 5: Praying for Columbia, focusing on single moms, and collecting items for the single moms retreat.

Week 6: Praying for Russia, focusing on substance abuse, and fasting from your favorite beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).

Week 7: Praying for the United States, focusing on human trafficking, and fasting from TV.

The possibilities are endless. Involve your kids.  And share your wonderful ideas with us!  We’d love to hear your ideas for your own personal Lent Remixed! 



Image by Gerardofagen via Flickr 

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