Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A note of encouragement about this less-than-baptist practice of Lent...
if you are not failing in Lent, you may not be trying hard enough.
(Drawing inspiration from what the Texas Episcopal Bishop, Andy Doyle, said recently)
[I] realized what a miserable failure I have been when it comes to keeping my Lenten promises. Sure, I have succeeded well enough at times, but for the most part Lent has been and will be, I suspect, an exercise of failure for me. That is, if I continue to see keeping those promises as successful only if I don’t backslide for 40 days pass! For example, can I stop eating pizza and soda for 40 days? I don’t know … I might slip up. Can I stop eating chocolate or drinking wine? Whatever it is that I choose to set aside this Lent – I know I am doomed.
..... I believe this failure is the reason many people don’t attempt any Lenten discipline at all. Smart and successful people (people in general – in my estimation) don’t like to fail. In Chris Argyris’ book Teaching Smart People How to Learn, the author describes the stumbling block as: failure. Argyris’ thesis is that smart and successful people stop learning because they stop failing. Success, it seems, breeds an inability to experiment and fail. Yet, it is in the failing that we learn. I would argue that as a culture we are bent on success to the point that any brush with failure cannot be tolerated. And so it comes to pass that we really don’t see any benefit from the discipline of Lent because we fail at it most times. ....

Lent is a time of sharing the good news that our salvation rests in the hand of God, in the Grace of God. Our salvation does not depend upon us. Our failing teaches us this. Our failing at Lenten disciplines is exactly what these 40 days are meant to be about. It is in attempting to succeed that we discover our minds and hearts are able to receive the message...." of pardon and forgiveness... from the Gospel, and of our need for renewed repentance and faith.

Steve Mines teaches one of the Symposium classes at First Baptist Church


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