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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
IWSG: Giving Up to Gain? What? And . . . a minor web error
IWSG: Giving Up to Gain? What?
During IWSG, I usually refrain from going "obvious" with my faith, but today is Ash Wednesday, and as I prepare to help with worship at my church tonight, I can't help but think about some of the practices associated with Lent and how they've helped my writing journey.
During Lent, many Christians give up something and focus on Jesus' time of temptation in the desert, or in the days leading to his death on the cross on the Passover, representing the perfect lamb slain for all of our sins for all time. It's a time for reflection and contemplation. Although Lent isn't mentioned in the Bible anywhere, fasting is mentioned several times, usually in mourning over brokenness in sin or in the context of prayer.
The first year I practiced fasting, I didn't fast from any kind of food. I fasted from fiction reading.
A conversation with a friend had led me to realize that while I had read some of my favorite fiction books not just once, or twice, but sometimes more than a dozen times, I hadn't read my Bible all the way through even one time, with the exception of a Children's Illustrated Bible I had as a kid.
So, I gave up fiction that Lent, and while it was extremely challenging for me, it was also freeing. I had time to pray. I had time to read the Bible (on my 7th reading this year). I had time to focus on faith.
On the Easter side of that experience, I started writing again. Fasting from fiction reading helped me not only have time for a deeper faith walk, it also helped me find creativity within.
I'm going to fast from fiction again this year, and I'm worried I won't be able to make it for 40 days, even with the special exceptions I've made for myself: I can read fiction that I'm teaching with for my lit classes at homeschool co-op, I can write fiction, and I can read short stories on Sundays - mini-Easters and not part of the Lenten 40 days.
Even if Lent isn't something you practice, have you ever given something up to gain?
And if you've ever wondered how they make the Ash stick to your forehead on Ash Wednesday, I'll let you in on the secret: olive oil mixed into the ash. And that's my part of worship tonight at my church - trying to get the mixture right so it doesn't dribble down everyone's foreheads.
In this way, everyone is anointed with oil and ashes. The ash represents the death of the tree of life aka Jesus for our sins, and the oil anoints us all as a part of the royal priesthood of believers. The ash also represents our mortality while the oil represents the eternity of life in Christ. It's all about undeserved, amazing grace.
And this post was inspired by Julie Luek's post: 40 Days of Contemplation.
And, has anyone had blogger install links to other websites in their title without permission - somehow some of the words in my title area are linking to other sites - I don't want this, and I'm not sure how to turn it off. Anyone know?