In the church where I grew up, Lent was not observed. Later in life, I became curious about this church event that inspired parties, fasting, and feasts. It is commonly believed that the Lenten period has to do with the events of the 40 days prior to the Resurrection, yet there is no authority for Lent in the Bible. It is totally a church institution.
With that said, a period of cleansing and letting go is a powerful and worthwhile endeavor, exampled by Jesus’ fast in the desert, and before that, Moses when he went to Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, and Elijah on Mount Horeb, and many others who have “gone apart” for a while and returned triumphant and full of inspiration and direction.
Although Lent is a church institution, it embodies a holy idea – the idea of cleaning and releasing. It also moves us in the direction of disciplining our minds and our bodies. Through discipline, we become more receptive to receiving Christ ideas into our consciousness. Then the ability to apply them to our daily lives is more plausible. Like many other religious practices, Lent has become about the “letter” of the practice and not about the “spirit” of the practice.
A lot of people make a fad out of Lent by giving up some luxury of food or drink. This does make for a mental and psychological activity of discipline, but atheists could receive benefit from such an activity. How do we take this idea of cleansing and giving up, following the example of our Way-shower? Jesus taught his disciples and followers about prayer and fasting as ways to purify the soul (consciousness). These practices made them ready or available to receive and feel the presence of God – to know God in a deeper way.
Our New Thought practices of Denial and Affirmation are equivalent to fasting and prayer. Fasting is the denial. Prayer is the affirmation.
Although fasting of food and physical substances, like alcohol, or chocolate, or sugar may be good for your body, the point about fasting that I invite you to practice this Lenten season is to let go – let go of whatever troubles you or holds you back or no longer serves you.
If you have been in criticism and condemnation – let it go
If you have been in guilt or judgment – let it go
If you have been in belief of sickness or dis-ease – let it go
If you have been in false beliefs of lack or limitation – let it go
When we let go of these things that no longer serve us, we can embrace God’s love as it shows up for us and our brother and sister. We can embrace today – just as it is. We can find and affirm examples of God’s perfect life in all things. We can open and accept God’s Goodness flowing unrestricted into our lives. These are the things that Lenten meditations are made of.
I hope you will join me in person or in spirit in this season of Lent. I invite you to deepen your practice of denial and affirmation as you fast from error thinking and pray affirming, knowing God’s Goodness is yours in all things.