Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Have a Blessed St. Patrick's Day!

Tomorrow, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Does that seem odd when most of the world is not Irish and not everyone is Catholic. So, why do the rest of us non-Irish non-Catholics like celebrating this day?

St. Patrick was born in Britain in the 4th century. He was kidnapped as a teenager and made a slave by Irish raiders. He escaped after six years and returned to Britain and became a priest. Amazingly, he later chose to return to Ireland as a missionary. It is said that he used the shamrock to help explain the concept of the Trinity to the Irish pagans. Even through continuous opposition from the Irish, he continued to evangelize for thirty years and established monasteries, churches, and schools. He died on March 17.

Over the years, the holiday has grown to include many non-religious traditions mixed in with celebrating the Irish heritage. Though wearing green clothing and eating green food may not seem to have much to do with St. Patrick and the God he worshipped, it brings to mind that hanging icicle lights from our roofs and decorating with poinsettias don’t have much to do with celebrating Christ’s birth, either. Do we stop celebrating because of this? I think not. I think we can teach our children and pass the word along about a man who overcame great odds to be used by the Sovereign Lord to bring many to a saving knowledge of Him. I think we can teach our children about missionary work, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the awesome love of God by using this day as a tool. And if we use a little green food coloring along the way, eat a bit of Irish stew, and don our green attire, the better to celebrate, my dear!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Preparing for Lent

"It is not repentance that saves me;
repentance is the sign that I realise
what God has done in Christ Jesus."
~Oswald Chambers

Over breakfast this morning, Daja's family was discussing Fat Tuesday tomorrow, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  Belgee, her soon-to-be 4 year old says, "I'm fasting Puttanesca."

Definitely a child of a foodie.  I had to go look it up.  I had no idea what Puttanesca was.

But, I have been thinking of Lent.  I am preparing.  Last night I made a folder for the blogs that I will be reading during the season.  See, I’m giving up my Google Reader. Sounds strange, right?  Google Reader is supposed to be a simplifying tool!  And it is, but I just have so many blogs that I want to read each day.   So, I made a folder for the blogs that I will be reading during Lent – my family’s, a FEW good friends, and some devotional types.  I’m giving up most of my craft, decorating, cooking, thrift, health, and organizational blogs -- and the folder labeled “People I Know”. Yep, lots of blogs I just can't seem to live without. We’ll see what happens after Easter. Maybe I’ll go back to them; maybe just some of them; maybe none.

Last year I gave up Facebook. It was a bit difficult to pull away, but it was SO good for me. It put my even being on Facebook in perspective and gave me freedom. I think that’s one of the reasons for any discipline. Discipline really does give you freedom. I’m going to say that again. Discipline gives you freedom! Amazing how that works. Just like dying to live and giving to receive.

I read a good post this morning by Edie from life{in}grace regarding Lent for those of us who are not Catholic, or even from a liturgical church. No, Lent is not a scriptural command. But, fasting, repentance, prayer, and discipline are. Following the church calendar just helps us not forget those harder things when we are celebrating the “fun” things like Easter and the Resurrection.

"In many cultures there is an ancient custom
of giving a tenth of each year's income to some holy use.
For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent
is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year's days.
After being baptized by John in the River Jordan,
Jesus went off alone into the wilderness
where he spent forty days asking himself
the question of what it meant to be Jesus.
During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask
one way or another what it means to be themselves...
to answer questions like this is to begin to hear something
not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming
and what you are failing to become.
It can be pretty depressing business all in all,
but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it,
something like Easter may be at the end."
~Frederick Buechner

So, even though I am from a non-denominational, evangelical church, I will be observing Lent. Even though I may not be giving up Puttanesca.

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