Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? –Matthew 16:26, MSG
I don’t get to the vulnerability of Lent’s invitation without a fight; without strong resistance. Give up something for Lent. Give up an addiction: coffee, CNN, this month’s top 40 countdown, Facebook, impatience. “Oh, yes,” I say, “I’m not going to trivialize Lent by just giving up chocolate. It means so much more.” Well, yes it does, Dave, but don’t use your non-trivialization to sophisticatedly rationalize your way around giving up a habit bordering on addiction! Lent does nudge, push, even drive us to give something up! –David Brock, Driven Into Lent
- What habits “bordering on addiction” are calling for your attention this Lenten season?
- Where do you notice resistance in the giving up nudges of Lent? Is there something you are invited to release that you are still making justifications for clinging to?
- Prayerfully dwell in Matthew 16:26. What is God’s invitation for you in this text today?
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35, NRSV
Lent has begun. What should we do? Jesus didn’t get a free pass on the desert. Luke says the Holy Spirit led him there. He didn’t resist the wilderness; he chose it. The liturgical calendar wisely gives us space to follow him on our own little 40–day trip to the spiritual hinterlands. For a short time we get to go without. Scarcity is a useful tool for smoking out the latest kingdom in our heads. Better, fasting from what we want is a means of grace that recalls us to the real kingdom: the Reign of God preached and embodied in Jesus Christ.
Let whoever is hungry come.–Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads
- How are you invited to choose the wilderness this Lenten season?
- What spiritual gifts are available when you intentionally “go without?” What invitation may be present in scarcity?
- Prayerfully dwell in John 6:35. What is God’s invitation to you in this text? For what do you truly hunger?
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. –Luke 4: 1-2, NRSV
People in Jesus’ homeland wanted a certain kind of kingdom. Interestingly, Jesus’ temptations play off these desires. Would he be what they imagined? Would he be the king they were starved for? So Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting. Fasting is a way to discern true hunger from the false –and it’s the false hunger we should fear. Would Jesus be what God wanted, or would he give in to his contemporaries’ images? –Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads
- How do you discern true hunger from false hunger? What “unanalyzed hunger” needs your attention?
- What images or expectations from others currently impact your behavior? When you imagine your true self in God, what do you discover?
- Read Luke 4:1-13. Which of the temptations of Jesus relate to images of self you are invited to release? For additional reflection on this story, see p.4 of “Sacred Restraint: A Spiritual Companion for the Lenten Desert.”