Today’s 9 a.m. Contemporary Service is cancelled because of snow. Please join us for our 10:30 a.m. service.

A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN:

Rev. J.C. Austin

With the arrival of Lent, many people are talking about what they’re giving up for Lent. This is an old spiritual practice that stems from traditions of fasting and self-denial for Christians as signs of repentance and spiritual focus. People give up chocolate, or alcohol, or other things that are viewed as pleasures or indulgences. In recent years, some people have given up social media for Lent. I must admit, that one bothers me. If you use social media primarily to pass the time looking at cat videos, that makes some sense. But for people whose social media connects them to far-flung friends and families, that’s not giving up an indulgence, it’s effectively giving up relationships, which aren’t simply indulgences by any means. So, if you’re giving something up for Lent, be clear why you are doing so and how doing it will help you to deepen your discipleship in Christ as a result.

But I also invite you to consider taking something on for Lent rather than giving something up. In the Reformed theological tradition (of which Presbyterians are a part), there has always been some suspicion of the “giving up” practices of Lent. When done well, they can be effective spiritual disciplines, but they can also become an indulgence of their own if we’re not careful, a public demonstration of one’s piety. Taking something on for Lent, though, is about following additional disciplines of discipleship, usually in ways that only you are really aware: committing to read Scripture every day, or an additional practice of prayer, or a special discipline of financial giving, or giving extra time in addressing justice issues or serving those in need.

If you’re used to giving up something for Lent, I encourage you to try taking something on this season, and see how God enriches your faith through it during your Lenten journey. And if you want some suggestions of things to take on, or guidance on how to do so, let me know and we’ll talk about it!

Grace & Peace,
JC