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Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their Glory

for worthless idols.            Jeremiah 2:11

Today is Ash Wednesday which means it’s the beginning of Lent. The forty days that prepare us for the celebration of Easter. Traditionally Christians use this time to give something up – to abstain from something as a way of reminding themselves of the sacrifice of Christ. It’s a means to preparing ones heart and mind for the resurrection observance. In the waiting and anticipating there is depth of meaning for the event. Much like Advent which prepares us for Christmas, Lent prepares us for Easter.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly liturgical church and so this isn’t a practice that I engaged in much as a child. Throughout my adult life I have given something up for Lent some years and not for other years. It’s been determined by the year and what I needed and where my heart was. To be honest, I’m still not sure (even though it starts today!) if I’m giving anything up this year or not. But as I read from Jeremiah this morning I couldn’t help but think of it in terms of Lent and resurrection.

The words of chapter two, verse eleven struck me with particular power this morning…

“But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.”

Perhaps this is what the season of Lent and the practice of giving something up is about. Reminding us of all the worthless idols we’ve put in place of God, of our Glory.

I’m still considering what this statement regarding “our Glory” may mean and what it implies. Surely I’ll have another post for that one. But I think I’m realizing that the preparation we get with Lent is a subtle reminder that when we give up a little thing that we would rather not live without we get clarity in our lives. We get the reminder that these things in life are just “things”, nothing more. And they certainly can be done without if need be. Ultimately it’s a practice in saying “No” to ourselves in order to say “Yes” to something greater than ourselves. It’s a practice in serving, in sacrificing. And Jesus gave the greatest sacrifice in dying on our behalf and giving us resurrection life.

In order to live the life abundant that Jesus invites us to we may at times have to say no to the things that rob us of life. (Although I’m learning that we have to say no to far fewer things than we’ve typically been led to believe!) And Lent gives us a practice in saying no, a reminder that we can when we know we should. And it honors the sacrifice of Jesus, and prepares us for the celebration of his death and resurrection.

“But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.”

Whether observing Lent or not, this verse is an invitation to examine myself today:

In what areas of my life have I exchanged the glory God offers for worthless idols? Where have I settled for less than the abundant life of following Jesus?

 

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