On Sunday we engaged the first of our 2 heavenly virtues:
Sacrifice (traditionally known as charity) which emphasises the self-sacrificial love we find expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Christ; and
Restraint (traditionally known as temperance) which captures ideas of simple living, moderation, self-control and considering the interests of others in our choices
This week’s Lent Experience offers some practices that help us live in these virtues of Sacrifice and Restraint as a part of acknowledging, challenging and asking for God’s help with the 2 Deadly Sins that undermine our desire to live lives of restraint and sacrifice:
Gluttony – massive over-consumption particularly of food
Greed – rampant desire for material possessions
We discovered that both of these are a kind of idolatry – a way of replacing God with something else. As you go through this week, be aware as insight surfaces around the reality of greed and gluttony in your life and the positive impact of practising restraint and sacrifice!
The daily devotional pattern that we are providing as part of the Lent Experience is an opportunity to create space for God to get your Inside Straight. It’s a simple rhythm with the same basic activity set for each day. If you miss one, don’t stress – leave it and move on or try it another day – the most important thing is that we seek God’s presence this day (rather than beat ourselves up for yesterday’s omissions). Keeping a journal in hard copy or on the media device of your choice is a great way of keeping track of your Lent Experience.
REFLECT offers an opportunity to process and decide what this week will look like following on from our time together on Sunday and the week that has been. Take some time to reflect on whether greed and gluttony are a part of your life – it could be in the form of over-eating, comfort eating, use of substances such as drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to moderate life, retail therapy… As you come across these things, what are your options for replacing them with the corresponding virtues of restraint and sacrifice?
READ is a chance to engage with the scriptures. Take the scripture into your day. Maybe a key phrase or print it out and reflect on it when you have some down time at the lights, in a queue, feeding the baby etc. This week’s scripture is Psalm 139 – it’s a great way to pray in this season of Lent. Try the Message version for variety.
RESTRAIN is a day of fasting. Today we’re fasting from drinking any beverages APART from water. So it’s good bye to coffee, soft drinks, milk, alcohol etc. It’s a chance to celebrate the goodness of water but also an opportunity to reflect on those parts of the world where clean drinking water is a real issue. You might like to consider this as a gateway fast to a 7 day effort as part of the SIM H20 Only Challenge raising funds for SIM water projects around the world.
RESPOND is taking up the challenge to notice the needs of another and to respond with action. This week’s RESPOND is to put others first – it’s a part of practising sacrifice. So we’re looking for concrete opportunities to do this – maybe it’s letting someone into your lane, offering something that you have to another, helping someone when it’s not your job, paying it forward in some way…The point is to NOTICE another is in need and to RESPOND from what we have.
RECALL FRIDAY is a call to pray the events, experiences and emotions of the past week. To recall and to offer them to God. Being real about the disappointments and thankful for the positives. Setting aside 5-10 minutes of quiet for this special TGIF will likely help you make this happen.
Take some time out to do something that is personally refreshing to you. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive. But treat yourself to the gift of a little personal down time or attention. Allow the moment to RESTORE you.