Tempted to give up on Lent

Long ago, I gave up giving up for Lent. Don’t get me wrong; I know that fasting and self-denial are profound spiritual disciplines. I also know that I did it wrong. My weak attempts at giving up during Lent ended up reduced to a 40-day weight loss program.

About the same time I gave up giving up for Lent, I was introduced to the idea of taking on during Lent. For example, adding more time for Bible reading. This approach fits me better.

This year, though, I was tempted to skip Lent altogether. It has felt like Lent ever since October when I was laid off. I wanted to skip over Lent and skip on to Easter.

Then I was blessed with the invitation to write a Living Lutheran* blog post on Matthew 4:1–11, the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. As I studied the text, I marveled how God’s word offers sustenance for a hungry heart.

Jesus resists temptation remembering the scripture he knows by heart: “One does not live by bread alone,” (Deuteronomy 8:3). “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6:16). “Serve only [God]” (Deuteronomy 6:13). The text demonstrates the difference between “memorized” and “known by heart” when Jesus resists the tempter’s use of Psalm 91:12.

I closed my eyes to remember the scripture I know by heart, including John 3:16–17 and Psalm 23, which my heart sings as “Shepherd me, O God” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 780). I opened my eyes to hungrily reread all the texts for the day and the suggested hymns, too. I realized what I needed to add during these 40 days. I need to bring home my Sunday and Wednesday church bulletins and study–engage–the scripture and hymn texts. I trust this journey will add to what I know by heart.

* On Saturday and Sunday, March 12-13, this reflection will be the lead article on the Living Lutheran blog. I encourage you to visit www.livinglutheran.com and comment on one or more of the “Talk Back” questions that follow the reflection.

Sue Edison-Swift
March 8, 2011

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