I must tell you that it's been a most interesting first few days of Lent, especially as we continue our journey through our shared Daily Disciplines. As we mentioned on Ash Wednesday, and in last Thursday's email, Kathy has composed a list of daily disciplines for each of us to undertake as a way of walking through Lent 2014: A Season of Redemption. Some of these, to be sure, are a lot easier to deal with than others. Today, for example, our discipline was to write a note of encouragement to someone we know could use such a word. Thursday, on the other hand...we are all supposed to give up sarcasm. (Think we might just have a silent retreat so we can do group therapy.)

One thing most of us have heard about with respect to Lent is the discipline of sacrificing or 'giving up' something for these 40 days. In a recent survey, pollster George Barna found that among the 17% of all adults in our country who follow the practice of sacrificing something for Lent, 88% are giving up something food-related; 31% are sacrificing something technological (social networks, smartphones, television, etc.) Not surprising, given the age in which we live.

What did surprise me, though, was the percentage of respondents who were giving up things like smoking and swearing...less than 2%!

This is not to make a call on what is most important for anyone to give up, for each of us has those things that we know we should sacrifice in order to make more time for the prayerful introspection and reflection that is part of the Lenten season.

No...the point is to help us all realize that there are many different things that we know consume us far more than they should, and given that wide variety, maybe, just maybe, we can find hope and inspiration to do it. Now, to be sure, not everything has to be made public or reported to others (although that is a GREAT way to have some accountability.) 

My hope and prayer for you, though, is not so much about what you are giving up (Chocolate, Facebook, Twitter, Smoking, Swearing, or something else) as much as it is about what we are invited to embrace during this season - the redemption, reconciliation, and forgiveness that is found only in Jesus the Christ.

Grace and Peace,