Tag Archives: slow Lent

Slow Lent – Third Season

YOUNG WOMAN RECEIVES MARK OF ASHESToday is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.  With the placement of ashes on our forehead, we acknowledge the words, “From dust you come and to dust you shall return.”   Words that describe our mortality, the prospect that we will all die some day.  So we take time now to face our own death as we also reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross.  “For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

I continue to be a fan of the Slow Lent Movement.  I have posted in past years regarding it and still think it is helpful today.   I wrote this a couple of years ago.

Bishop Margaret Payne introduced me to the Slow Lent Movement several years ago and her passionate explanation of our need for it still rings true.

She spoke on how pastors have bought into the seduction of our culture’s three A’s: Accomplishment, Adrenalin, and Affirmation. As pastors we think our worth is based on how much we accomplish in our congregations and we enjoy the adrenalin rush that comes from having much to do and being needed by many people. And we relish the public affirmation that often comes from having our hands in many programs and ministries. I found myself nodding my head several time, recognizing my own self-delusions being exposed by her words.

But I don’t think her words are limited to pastors. In spite our professed trust in God’s grace, so many of us who are Christians still seek our self-worth based on our accomplishments. We rush about trying to fulfill the many “shoulds” we carry inside our heads. We seek public affirmation even as we feign humility. We have bought into the prevailing culture without seeing our need for a new way of life.

This year for Lent, I am focusing on a specific act of slowing down: prayerful eating.  I will write more about this in next week’s post.

Lord Jesus, teach me to rest in you.

Slow Lent Revisted

Slow Lent Movement

Slow Lent Movement

In two days, Lent begins. Lent is a church season of preparation, looking towards Jesus’ passion. I have written about Lent before and as I stopped to reread it, I realize that I need to learn once again to slow down, to realign my life.

Two years ago I wrote about Bishop Margaret Payne’s passion for a Slow Lent Movement. A brief section of what I wrote then,

She spoke on how pastors have bought into the seduction of our culture’s three A’s: Accomplishment, Adrenalin, and Affirmation. As pastors we think our worth is based on how much we accomplish in our congregations and we enjoy the adrenalin rush that comes from having much to do and being needed by many people. And we relish the public affirmation that often comes from having our hands in many programs and ministries. I found myself nodding my head several time, recognizing my own self-delusions being exposed by her words.

But I don’t think her words are limited to pastors. In spite our professed trust in God’s grace, so many of us who are Christians still seek our self-worth based on our accomplishments. We rush about trying to fulfill the many “shoulds” we carry inside our heads. We seek public affirmation even as we feign humility. We have bought into the prevailing culture without seeing our need for a new way of life.

I confess that I continue to find my primary worth in my accomplishments, rather than my identity as God’s child. This Lent our congregation will be focused on the Lord’s Prayer and the opening phrase always give me pause, “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus instructs us to approach God as a loving father who seek us out.

I pray for you that the season of Lent will provide be a time of slow, reflective prayer, of simply being with God.

Yes, there is much to do.

Yes, our neighbor needs love.

But in our anxious hurry, you and I forget who we are. We need to slow down and be with our loving papa in heaven.

Lord Jesus, remind me once again to slow down in you.

Slow Lent Movement: Part Two

Slow down for Lent

Yesterday I introduced Bishop Payne’s concept of a Slow Lent.   Here are five slow spiritual disciplines that complement traditional Lenten disciplines.

1. Traditional: repentance 
    Slow: speak less, listen more.

In our hurried culture, we often are so quick to speak, to get our words out, that we rarely take the time to listen to what others say, especially those that we disagree with.  We rush to judgment when we need to listen and possibly to change the direction of our thinking, planning, and acting.

2. Traditional: forgiveness
   Slow: let go of one “should.”    

Many of us carry various kinds of “ought’s or should’s” that overload our schedule. We need to “forgive” ourselves.   For example, as a new pastor, I feel I should be involved in different local community activities.  One piece of wisdom I received recently is that a new pastor should not be involved in local community activities during the first year so that he or she can fully enter into the life of the congregation.   So I have given up that “should” even before Lent starts.

3. Traditional: catechesis (teaching)
    Slow: re-learn one basic of the faith

Rather than focusing on the newest spiritual discipline, simply re-focus on some basic spiritual discipline.  This year at Resurrection Lutheran, we will be re-learning the Lord’s Prayer and its meaning for prayer and life.

4. Traditional: fasting
    Slow: choose one way to ‘unplug’

For some Christians, Lent means giving something up so that one can better focus on God.  The usual items are chocolate, desert, alcohol, or meat.   Bishop Payne suggested that perhaps we “unplug” from the internet or turn off our smartphones or television.  We might not be able to do it 24/7, but we might choose to turn it off every evening or every Saturday.  Of course, the purpose is to open our time and our lives in a fresh way to God.

5. Traditional: almsgiving
     Slow: simplify

Certainly we need to be as gracious as our God and give to people in need.   Lent is a great time to practice such giving.  Yet our culture is so focused on the accumulation of things, perhaps we can shift our attention from accumulating to letting go.  My uncle Jerry lived for several years during his retirement in an RV.  Whenever he considered buying something, he had to consider what he would give away to make space for the new.  It made him think twice before buying.

Which discipline might help you slow down this Lent?

The Slow Lent Movement

Slow Lent Movement

This morning I attended a ministerium meeting for Lutheran pastors from the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Area Synods.  After worship, our presenter, Bishop Margaret G. Payne of the New England Synod, spoke on her passion for a Slow Lent Movement.  

Inspired by the Slow Food movement which calls us to step away from fast food and re-learn the values of thoughtful shopping, local foods, time spent in preparation and even more time spent in sharing food slowly with family and friends. The Slow Lent Movement has similar goal. Some of her questions are

  • How does our culture’s addiction to hurry stand in the way of spiritual growth?
  • Do we have too much ‘fast worship?’
  • How could this Lenten season provide an antidote to the weariness of too much to do at the same time that it offers strategies for recovery?

She spoke on how pastors have bought into the seduction of our culture’s three A’s: Accomplishment, Adrenalin, and Affirmation.   As pastors we think our worth is based on how much we accomplish in our congregations and we enjoy the adrenalin rush that comes from having much to do and being needed by many people.   And we relish the public affirmation that often comes from having our hands in many programs and ministries.   I found myself nodding my head several time, recognizing my own self-delusions being exposed by her words. 

But I don’t think her words are limited to pastors.  In spite our  professed trust in God’s grace, so many of us who are Christians still  seek our self-worth based on our accomplishments.  We rush about trying to fulfill the many “shoulds” we carry inside our heads.   We seek public affirmation even as we feign humility.   We have bought into the prevailing culture without seeing our need for a new way of life.

How have you been seduced by the Three A’s: Accomplishment, Adrenalin  and Affirmation?

Tomorrow, I will post on Bishop Payne’s Five Slow Disciplines for Lent.