Be different this Lent

Reading: Joel 2:12-18

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. – Joel 2:13

For a season in my life Lent was about sacrifice: dropping extra change in a collection box or giving up dessert. Later it was about taking on something for God (sometimes another job in the church). This year I hear a more personal call from God, an invitation not to do anything but to be different.

God’s call is intimate. “Rend your hearts and not your clothing,” verse 13 begins. God always looks past the external things we like to show the world (and God), and knows and accepts us as we really are. God’s desire is that we come to know him more fully, not that we look like we’re sacrificing (though the two can go hand-in-hand).

God’s call is also communal. “Gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children.” That’s why Christians @ Large will gather this Friday for the imposition of ashes and to be on holy ground with our merciful, loving God who relents from punishing.

Lent (which begins today, Ash Wednesday) has traditionally been a time of spiritual renewal and clarifying our place in God’s story. If you think about a Lenten “discipline,” consider a practice that will change who you are, not just what you do.

  • You could start or recommit to a daily time of reading Scripture and prayer. (The pray-as-you-go podcasts and the daily readings linked from our website at are good places to start.)
  • Try spending more of your prayer time listening to God, and less time talking. Notice what feelings and longings Scripture brings up in you, and let that guide your conversation with God.
  • If you are led to give something up for Lent, consider what changes would be good for you not just for 40 days but as permanent changes, and use the discipline of Lent to help you make your life more sustainable.
  • Pay more attention to what God is doing in and around you. The prophet Joel’s call summons brides and bridegrooms to leave their wedding for the assembly, which simply means that God uses our willingness to pay attention to him to shape our lives.

May this Lent be a time of refreshing our faith, clarifying who we are as people created by God, and renewing our commitment to live in the Way of Jesus.

God’s peace,


Written by Bob Fisher in: being church,lent,spirituality |

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