Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I'm Doing for Lent

For those of you who care, Lent started yesterday. Lent is the period of time leading up to Easter, in which Christians are traditionally supposed to be preparing to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. This sometimes involves "giving up" something for Lent, focusing and reflecting on certain ideas, and forming spiritual habits.

This year for Lent I decided to pray for the news every day. Find a news story and pray for the issues and the people involved. Today I've found this one on CNN: 100th Tibetan self-immolates in China, advocacy groups say.

Summary: A few days ago, Lobsang Namgyal, a former monk, set himself on fire (and died) to protest the Chinese government's rule of Tibet. This is a big deal because he is the 100th Tibetan to do so in the past few years. I don't understand all the politics involved here, or why people decide to set themselves on fire, but basically the Tibetans claim that the Chinese government is oppressive, and they would like Tibet to be independent.

What I'm praying for:
  • Justice for the people of Tibet. Like I said, I don't know much about the history and politics, but obviously something is wrong if people are setting themselves on fire in protest. I pray that whatever injustice they are protesting would be made right.
  • I pray that the Chinese government would listen to Tibet's concerns and help them.
  • For the family and friends of Lobsang Namgyal (and everyone else who died like this).
  • Hope for the Tibetans- because it seems like people would have to feel pretty desperate and hopeless to set themselves on fire.
  • And every day I'm praying that I would have more compassion for people all over the world- especially those that are different from me.

If you are a Christian, I encourage you to do something special for Lent. Something to make you more aware of God and the needs of the world, something like that.

And the most important thing: It doesn't have to be perfect!

You might say, "But Lent already started! Now it's too late for me to start up some spiritual habit." Dude, it's fine. You can start late and it's okay.

And you might say, "But if I miss a day, then that's a sin and I'm not good enough, I'm not committed enough..." You know, technically Sundays don't count as part of Lent, so it's totally fine to miss one day a week.

And even if you forget or don't have time, it's okay! This isn't about adding another burden on your busy schedule! In my case, I want to pray for people in the news every day because prayer is good and I hope it teaches me more about the world. Not because I have to do something and God's going to be horribly disappointed if I don't do it all 40 days of Lent. Even if I totally forget to pray for the next 6 weeks, the 2 days that I've already done it have been A GOOD THING.

Don't not do something because you're afraid you can't be perfect. This isn't about "I have to keep this up every day or else I'm a bad person."

This isn't something you owe God. It's something you do because it benefits you.

So for the Christians out there, I hope, during Lent this year, you are open to seeing and experiencing God more. Maybe you do so by giving something up or by practicing spiritual habits.

But remember, God gives us freedom! This is not about legalism; it's about the amazing opportunity we have to chase God.

So, tell me, readers: Are you doing anything special for Lent?

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