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Going Through the Motions

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We are in the season of Lent, and Lent is often a time that begins a movement of tradition in our lives. And I am not just talking about church. Here at church of coarse we have the tradition of Lenten Soup Supper followed by Worship but we see Lent inspired movements even in the culture that surrounds our daily lives in the places where we live. For example. I was exploring facebook the other day, no I didn’t give up facebook for Lent, and I notice that a neighbor restaurant posted a picture of that Lent Dinner Menu. Why? Well because many people in this area follow the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.
The season is also one that shapes our conversations. When I was a college freshman, back in 2004, I attended Penn State Mont Alto campus and a group of my friends and I were sitting in the College Cafeteria. And one of my friends asked me, “So are you giving up anything for Lent?”
“Hadn’t planned on it”
As we started talking about Lent my friends and I all decided that we would each pick something to give up that year for Lent.
My friends gave us sodas and other sweat beverages. That means for the duration of Lent all they could drink was water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee.
I gave up meat. That means for the duration of lent, I gave up burgers, cheese steaks, hot wings, or anything else that was made up of my favorite ingredient meet.
At 12:00am Easter morning I threw a couple of special brats that I order in the mail from a meat market in Vermont on my george forman grill in my dormroom. Man I was excited that I made it to the end of Lent lasting the entire time giving up meat.
But as I began to think about this journey, I realized that I had Lent all wrong. For me it was about being able to pat myself on the back and to brag before my friends that I lasted the whole season without eating meat. Instead of it being a time of reflection and of repentance over the gravity of my sin.
The other thing I came to learn is how Lent and repentance can become a season of going through the motions. In fact, you might find yourself here tonight because this is something you always have done through out the season of Lent.
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