Now or Later

-Pastor Miriam Smith

      One of the most foolish things that I do on an embarrassingly frequent basis is go to the grocery store while hungry and without a list. As soon as I walk into the store, there’s a dawning sense of panic as I realize I’ve left all my planning behind (usually on the magnetic notepad on the side of the freezer), followed by the overwhelming rush of colors and choices shouting for attention, and culminating in the realization that what is in my cart will satisfy what my wants now rather than make it possible for me to cook dinners later. Meal planning is a matter of discipline for me. I have to work at making and maintaining the habit of putting thought into my grocery shopping. The truth is, I enjoy it when all the work pays off and Nathan and I can cook and spend time together over a tasty meal. But in the moment, in the grocery store, caught unprepared, all of my planning can go out the window! 

  The season of Lent begins this month. For many years, Christians have taken the forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays) as a time for sober reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration to come. Sometimes, people practice fasting by giving something up for the season. I’ve known others who practice it by taking something up instead. Fasting during Lent, in either way, ought to make more room for God to speak to us, work on us, and bring us closer to Him.  What we give up or take on now hopefully will continue later in our lives as we grow in our faith and connection to Christ. 

  Over time I have come to understand that observing Lent within a community of faith brings a deeper commitment to my personal disciplines. Even if I don’t share the specifics, knowing that I am worshipping with others also committed to observing Lent helps me to stay accountable to my disciplines. This year, we are all invited to practice giving something up each day as part of the “40 Days / 40 Items Project.” In turn, I want to challenge each of us to take something up as well. Be it a time of personal prayer, a regular phone call to a loved one, or joining a Bible study, I hope that you will dig in this Lent as we ready our hearts now for the joy to come later.  



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