Give Up or Give Away?
Lent begins next week on Ash Wednesday with a worship service in the Memorial Chapel at 7:00pm. If you aren’t sure what Lent is, it’s a season the followers of Jesus have recognized since just a few generations after Jesus rose from the dead. This is a time to slow down, be reflective, and prepare our minds and our hearts to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. But more American Christians know it as the season when you give something up. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is the question of the week. And many choose an old vice they’d love to finally kick, like extra caffeine, chocolate, or take on a daily habit they’ve always wanted to introduce, like a few extra minutes in silence in a day.
I’ve been impacted by the idea of fasting not just as something we give up but as something we give away. It’s an old idea—older, in fact, than the season of Lent. And it comes from Isaiah 58:6-12. In this passage, God is lamenting that his people don’t reflect the kind of God he really is. The kind of fasting they thought they had to practice meant giving up food and going around in dirty clothes. The way they went about that made it look like they worshiped a demanding God, a God of deprivation and scarcity.
But God’s fasting as described to the Israelites would point to a generous God, a God of freedom and abundance. That’s what we are going to explore on Wednesday at the Ash Wednesday service. What might you give away for Lent that would help others see that you worship God who is freedom and who abundantly gives?
That comparison describes the tone of the spiritual reality we are in, too. There is a spiritual battle between scarcity and abundance; between demand and generosity; between deprivation and freedom. Those who follow Jesus are in the battle on the side of the loving, freeing, abundant God. During Lent, we will be shifting our sermon series toward that battle and how to pray as a way of doing battle that love and freedom in Jesus would be evident in the world as it will be forever. Are you ready for battle? If so, get ready in Lent to live like Jesus—live to give away.
Join with one another to worship our great and generous God on Wednesday, March 1, at 7:00pm. We’ll have a chance to be led in song by our new Director of Worship, Gunnar Tesdahl. I’m excited to introduce him to you. And I look forward to a season of doing battle with you and seeing the heart of God reflected in our community.