Sorry for the linky inconvenience, but the post that used to be here is now at Giving up myself for lent. Thanks. (Again: sorry. It has to do with my blog having been moved here to its new home on Patheos.)
No sugar coating here John, thank you as always!
John, you really know how to wring out my emotions and thought processes until there’s not a drop left. And that’s a good thing. I’m sharing your blog with every man, woman, and child I know. I love what you’re doing.
My roommate in college gave up Catholicism for Lent.
Your roommate had it at least partly right: giving up (whatever)-ism for Lent, in order to strip away all the trappings of religion and get right to the love and sacrifice of Jesus is what I believe our host is proposing. I’m-a get some ashes tonight. Gonna listen to the message, gonna sing “Once Upon A Tree”.
Maybe, just maybe, I can put my -isms aside and be “of Christ” for a change.
That was an awesome read. Thanks.
Love this <3
I’ve given up everything since January 1. Does that count?
Giving up a vice of the soul is so much more likely to get us closer to being like Christ than giving up eating out. The physical manifestation (eating out less) may be the result of the soul changes but it rarely works in the reverse order.
last year I gave up saying the N word, this year I am giving up wake and bake, 4:20 and on only for me now on….. way too many vices to give up all at once… also I am not quite done with some of them…. sodomy for example, just too good to give up yet….
Wow, Phillip. I feel like I know you much better than I should now.
how about instead of giving up something, which is ultimately a private, potentially selfish activity ( really…give up ice cream or candy or liquor, who cares?) why not DO something? Help someone out. Offer assistance or support to someone. Volunteer. Give money or items to a charity. Love your neighbor as yourself. Go donate blood. We could sure use some blood at the hospital. Take a friend with you!
Beth: acts of charity such as those you describe have always been understood to be part of what Christians do (or are supposed to do) throughout the year, but particularly during the Lenten season.
I see this as a call to quit putting on a show and really do what it means if you are going to do it at all. A cleanse implies a holistic effort. Giving up chocolate or coffee is rather shallow. It isn’t about giving up this or that. It is about, as the title says, giving all of it up.
Wow, food for thought, John Shore.
Way to dig right down at the WHAT IT IS.
John, what a beautiful way to say something that is so nourishing for our souls. I’m always glad I found my way here to your blog. Today I attended an Ash Service at my Methodist church for the first time. I’m usually working and unable to attend, so you can imagine how moving it was for me. Now I must, once again, try my best to dig deep into myself and tap into what is Christian in me instead of trying to dig out all the bigotry and judgment I find in so many people these days. No small task. Love is the answer.
I give up.
I shall struggle to give up myself for Lent. Probably, I won’t succeed, but if I can just focus on ”we” more, it will be an improvement…more “we” and less “they.”
Well said, John, as usual. THIS is what TRULY fundamental Christianity is really about.
If you aren’t Dutch, you aren’t much? Give it up.
Feel the hollow, riveting truth of all that God is, and all that you are not. Amen.
You’re so hardcore, John. I love that about you.
I’m really bad at Lenting. I’m just gonna try to be a little kinder and a bit more reflective. I can handle that.
Went to the church I’ve been attending for years but been unhappy with for the past year for the Ash Wednesday service and decided I’m giving up that church and will find a new one by Easter.
I appreciate the support you guys are showing me for this post. It means a lot to me. Thank you.
Um…why? What would that accomplish? Instead of mourning for Jesus’ death, why not embrace the joy of his life? And live in joy and giving for 40 days? I think 40 days of consciously spreading joy and doing good to others, as Isaiah says a true fast is, would be much better than spending 40 days beating yourself up for not being enough, for not doing enough, etc. I already tend to do that every day, as do so many other people. Why do it as a religious duty?
Hannah: That you could reduce what I said to “spend 40 days beating yourself up” just means you don’t understand Lent. Which is cool; there’s no reason why you should. But man, do you not. (I’d be amazed if you yourself are Christian—not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
If you’re interested in learning about Lent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent
Wow, I haven’t read anything you’ve written or even heard of you before today. Your article is right on, but the attitude in your response to Hannah is not. She asked a question that makes perfect sense from her perspective. She even showed a bit of her heart to you, and your response was cutting and a bit arrogant.
You don’t get to decide who is a true Christian and who is not. If you want to be a leader your job is to encourage. Educate Hannah. Help her to grow in Christ and find that there is now no condemnation. If you have all wisdom and knowledge but don’t have love, it all amounts to nothing.
You are new here, Quint: you don’t me, or Hannah, or her history here, or mine, or … anything about this blog. I appreciate your kind words about the post. But beyond that, trust me: you’ve concluded way too much from way too little context.
After a doing a little research, I must apologize. Hannah has quite a posting history here and you are right I don’t (know) you or Hannah or much about your past interaction.
I can be hot headed in response to perceived judgement and arrogance, probably because I have found myself on the receiving end of those attitudes a little too often. I will have to be more humble myself in the future.
Welcome, Quint: In time, you get to see that John has a HUGE heart, loves Christians of all stripes, even hot-heads like you and me, because (if I may judge him a little) he is one, too.
John seems to deny this, but he’s pastoring a huge flock here, and doing a damn fine job of it. He welcomes the misfits, the fundamentalists, the wild-eyed liberals and those of us who have had JUST ABOUT ENOUGH of so-called “Christian” judgment and arrogance.
John argues for a genuinely “fundamental” Christianity that gets back to the heart of Christ’s life, teaching, sacrifice and resurrection.
Dave: thank you; I appreciate this.
Quint: no worries. I appreciate you wanting to protect/defend those who post here. I share that sentiment.
John, I see what you did here…
Oh, shoot. I was hoping to keep it secret.
Thank you for this post John. My family and I participated in Ash Wednesday services for the first time together yesterday. Our kids, ages 10 and 14 were actually eager to get up at the crack of dawn and get to the church before school started. Both have chosen to give up something this year. (The younger one is my step-son and is very new to church but really loves learning about Jesus. When he was getting out of the car at school, he asked me to check and make sure the ashes were still there). To see them “getting it” was such an answered prayer, I wanted to cry. Kids seem to just be able to accept love for what it is. Since Jesus is love, it should be a “no-brainer” for adults as well.
John – I’ve been reading the blog for years but haven’t commented much lately because I didn’t have a stance on gays and Christianity, except to say that Jesus loves everyone.
Thank you for this wonderful blog about Lent. I love Lent, I am fed by it, all the way through Maundy Thursday & Good Friday’s sorrow, by the wonderful truth of Easter.
Thank you for showing what Lent really is.
You have expressed what Lent means to me, TY.
OK, I know I’m a bit late to this particular party, but I just wanted to say to John that this post was deeply moving. As someone who is reflexively allergic to *anything* traditional/liturgical (doing anything that could remotely be seen as “doing what’s expected just for the sake of appearing to do what’s expected” makes all sorts of crazy alarms go off in my head), I got to see what others may get out of actively ‘doing’ Lent, and I can see, for the first time, some of it’s true worth. Thank you.
Please forgive the new rash of posts. I’m stuck sitting in a very boring place right now, and I’ve been reading some of the posts and comments here and finding it very interesting.
I come from an Orthodox Christian background (although Orthodoxy and I have series conflicts, many of the physical aspects of Orthodoxy have stuck with me), but also went to 8 years of Catholic school. Lent, in large part, has felt forced and focused on a single thing, when I feel it should be more like you are suggesting. It is a time for fasting, prayer, and living in a way that is meditative and reflective of your faith. It is a time for renewal and gaining strength in your faith. I find it strange that many people feel Lent is about simply giving something up. I find Lent a time of purification of body and mind, but also not screaming to the heavens “look at me being so pious because I’m giving up x and doing y”. Yes, giving up and fasting is often a means of purification, but without additional prayers and reflection of your life the fasting is meaningless.