I’m finding it harder and harder to stay focused lately. Those old jokes about walking into a room and trying to remember why you’re there aren't as funny as they used to be! And as I try to figure out WHY I have such a hard time focusing, I have to admit that it isn't just my age - ha - I know that I struggled to stay focused even when I was quite young!
There’s so much coming at us, so many things to track, and so many ways to track them. The ancients didn’t have nearly the amount of noise that you and I contend with, but they must have struggled to focus, too. Their faith drove them to festivals and traditions and seasons where their hearts and minds could settle down and just think about one thing for awhile.
That’s why we celebrate Lent - the forty days (starting on Ash Wednesday), plus Sabbaths, which lead up to Easter Sunday. We repent, we fast, and we focus our hearts and minds on who we really are and we feast on who He really is, as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the highest holiday of the Christian calendar.
What does it mean to fast? In the Bible, fasting was a symbol of repentance, and people fasted by giving up a meal/meals. Jesus himself fasted for 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for His ministry. Today we may humbly choose to give up a meal, a food, or something of physical comfort as a Lent practice to heighten our spiritual senses and draw closer to God's presence, in essence "feasting" on His goodness. While it's not a requirement to give something up, it is a tangible way of surrendering our will to His.
In addition to the traditional Lent practice of fasting, there are many other spiritual disciplines, aka practices, that can help us experience God's presence in our lives and help to shape/grow us into the people He has called us to be. Daily practices such as prayer, gratitude, reading/memorizing the Word, acts of service, and even slowing down from the constant striving remind us to focus.
Perhaps you feel the need to focus too. Today, Ash Wednesday, kicks off the season for us to do just that, both as individuals and as a church. Will you join me as we enter this season, and invite the Spirit to search us? to forgive us? to hear our needs and our hopes? to transform us into the image of Christ? and to prepare us for the celebration of His grace that is Easter!
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- Join us for the "Tune In" sermon series, 3/1- 4/5
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