Tag Archives: spiritual discipline

Unplugged Friday

Lent emphasizes spiritual disciplines. For example, Christians are encouraged to “give something up” for Lent as a way to make room for God. Fasting has been a spiritual practice for centuries. People forsake food (either totally or some favorite like chocolate or coffee) for a period of time so that they can more intentionally focus on loving God and loving the neighbor.

This Lent I am modifying the practice of fasting to being  “unplugged.” I plan to disconnect from all forms of computerized information on Fridays during Lent. No e-mail, no Facebook, no blog, no texting on Friday, my normal day off.  I plan to use the time for prayer, reading and reflection. A colleague of mine, Rich Melheim, is recommending a techfast  breakfast, staying unplugged each morning.  Such practices could also strengthen our creativity.

Jon Burg wrote on his blog regarding our need to unplug,

You, me and everyone else in the room knows that when you are answering emails on your mobile you aren’t really present. Your kids know it. Your co-workers know it. Your clients know it. Your spouse knows it. You know it. I’ve come to terms with this in my own life.

But I recently had a deeper insight. When I am always plugged-in to a device, I am not really present in my own life. I don’t enjoy my life as much when I live in the half-present. Not only does constant connectivity lessen my enjoyment of life, it distracts me from achieving the creative goals I set out for myself. The brain needs mindless time to reflect. This is why we come up with our best ideas in the shower.

A Bad Idea?

A Bad Idea?

I guarantee that if there were a tv screen in the shower, we would draw less inspiration from the shower experience. Who knows what major works of art, creativity and innovation would be lost.

You can read his whole article here

Part of the Lenten tradition of 40 day is based on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, a time of fasting and prayer, (Luke 4:1-2). I am pretty sure Jesus was also “unplugged” the whole time.

What spiritual practices are you embracing this Lent?

Lord Jesus, guide me into deeper devotion to 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?