This year I'm attempting to do something I haven't done successfully before: I'm trying to really observe the season of Lent. I've never had this modeled for me, since my Baptist background didn't stress it the same way that some of my Catholic friends did, although I always thought that denying myself something pleasurable in order to focus on the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me was a good thing to do.
I was so impressed with our pastor's leadership two Sundays ago when he called for a Fast to be observed by our entire church body for the season of Lent. The purpose of it is to pray and fast for the healing of a 5-year-old child in our midst who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant. The idea of a corporate Fast opened new possibilities for the Holy Spirit to operate, not only in a miracle of healing for little Creed, but in the lives of all of us involved.
The decision to be really intentional about the observance of Lent has challenged me, and apparently it has had the same effect on many others. I've had heard different ones saying what they were going to deny themselves: ice cream, breads, sodas, red meat, caffeine. Others are laying down habits that are taking time away from the Kingdom's work or from their families, such as Internet surfing, Facebook and blog reading. Personally, mine is going to have to be coffee. I do love it! I'm thinking I'll not have any caffeine, but allow occasional decaf. Is that a compromise?
I've tried fasting before, and I find myself thinking about the food that I can't eat more than focusing of the Lord. I feel so inadequate as a follower of Jesus! I have been a Christian for over 50 years; I should have mastered this habit long ago. I read books on Fasting, such as Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns and Fasting by Jentzen Franklin. What they have to say makes so much sense spiritually, yet giving up some little pleasure of mine seems so trivial compared to what Jesus did for our redemption. That's why, this year, I want this season to be truly meaningful. When Resurrection Sunday gets here, I want to feel a celebration as never before.
Two books have given me some inspiration. One is called Celebrating the Christian Year by Martha Zimmerman, and the other is No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo. This is the book that has been mentioned by several of the Christian bloggers that I follow, and it is certainly a gem. I paid $41.00 for a used paperback (!) because I had heard so much about it. From these resources, I am getting some inspiration for ways to keep my mind on Christ and God's Big Plan of redemption.
One idea was to have an "Easter tree" with ornaments depicting story of Jesus added each week or each day during Lent. Since I'm not as creative or as crafty as the young bloggers that I read, I decided the tree was more than I could tackle. I happened to be shopping in Hobby Lobby with a wonderful young mom who was also trying to do the same thing. We moaned over our lack of creativity when we spotted a wooden platter that we thought looked "Biblical." We decided that having it sit in the middle of the table with a symbol of some sort on it would serve the purpose. The focus of the first week of Lent is the fall of mankind, so when we found a wooden snake, we were inspired to keep going! Two hours later, we had found everything we needed to depict each lesson that reveals the sequence of events from the Creation to the Resurrection. We found a lamb to represent the sacrifice, a dove for the baptism, an alabaster jar for Jesus' anointing, a salt shaker in the shape of a light bulb for the Sermon on the Mount, miniature loaves and wine goblets, bowl and pitcher for the Last Supper, a wooden cross, and the recipe for Easter Cookies for Resurrection Morning. (If you aren't familiar with Easter Cookies, I'll include the recipe at the end of this post.)
I think I'm on my way to celebrating this season. My giving up caffeine is such a tiny, trivial thing, but I'm praying that it is only the beginning. Trying to fathom what my Savior did for me is too mind boggling, but I want to be as open as possible in order to receive what the Holy Spirit has to teach me. I walked through the breakfast room this morning and would have welcomed the familiar smell of fresh coffee. It inspired me to add to my visual.
This may seem silly, but it reminds me that anything that I enjoy more than I enjoy fellowship with my Savior needs to be cut out of my life. Just now, that's what He needs to teach me.
EASTER COOKIE RECIPE!
Making cookies with your children to teach the true meaning of EASTER!
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Help & permission from Parents!
1- cup whole pecans
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 300 (this is important-don't wait 'til you're half-done with the recipe)
1. Place the pecans in the baggie and let the kids beat them with the wooden spoon to break them into pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19:1-3
2. Put the vinegar into a mixing bowl. Let each child smell the vinegar. Explain that when Jesus was on the cross and He became thirsty, He was offered vinegar to drink.
Read John 19:28-30
3. Add the egg whites to the vinegar. The eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life so that we could have life.
Read John 10:10-11
4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand and let them taste it. Put the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read Luke 23:27
5. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup of sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
6. Beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
Read Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3
7. Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a wax paper cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus body was laid to rest.
Read Matt. 27:57-60
8. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off.
9. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed.
Read Matt. 27:65-66
10. Go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight and that Jesus followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
Read John 16:20-22
11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. the cookies are hollow! ON THE FIRST EASTER, Jesus' followers were amazed to find His tomb empty.
Read Matt. 28: 1-9