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Lent Devotion #2 - The Origins of Lent

According to Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  If we don’t stop, every now and then, and take the time to identify the places where we fall short, and the places where we aren’t being who we ought to be, what’s the purpose of life?

I suspect that the season of Lent was designed by Christians long ago to address this very point. The early followers of Jesus were grateful for the life God offers us in Christ, but they didn’t take God’s gift lightly. So, every year, 46 days prior to the celebration of Easter, they set aside 40 days for a time of meditating and seriously thinking about their relationship with this God who loves them enough to suffer and die for them. The 6 Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday are not a part of Lent, because every Sunday should be a day of celebration.

What does all this have to do with grace and peace? Does this season of Lent have anything to do with these concepts? I would say yes. As an old song suggests, if there is to be peace on earth, it has to start with us. And our starting point should be our relationship with the Prince of Peace. Let me offer one way to observe this Lenten season. Years ago, I modified an ancient Christian prayer that I now use on a daily basis. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, thank you for having mercy upon us sinners.” When I find a few moments, I focus on my breathing and this prayer. You will notice that it has 16 words. Sometimes I say the whole prayer as I breathe in through my nose, then the prayer again as I let out that air through my mouth. Sometimes I change it to half the prayer breathing in, and half out. Then sometimes one word for each breath in and out. The point of this type of meditation is to slow down and think of something besides ourselves and our troubles. When we can quiet our hearts and minds, we are better able to respond to others. I hope you will find peace in whatever way you observe this time leading up to Easter… and then, pass it on.


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