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Posts Tagged ‘pray’

When I was a little girl, my father had a standard before-meal blessing that he always used. I have to say it out loud, with the exact same inflection, to make sure I get it right. It goes like this:

Father, we thank you for this food…and all our many blessings. We pray…in his name, Amen.

Every once in awhile, I use it at my house, too. But usually I defer to my older son, William, when it comes to choosing a blessing to use before dinner.

(Confession: we don’t always say a blessing. There are too many nights when I’m frantically trying to feed the baby and keep him from getting upset while preparing food for the rest of us, and things get hectic, and David calls from work to say he’s coming home, and so on. Before I know it, William is halfway through his plate of food, and I haven’t even sat down at the table yet. I know. No excuses. I am trying to get better about this. I really am.)

William’s favorite blessings are all songs. The list includes the old faithful “Johnny Appleseed,” a ditty called “God Our Father” which is sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques,” and a version of the A-B-C song that ends with “Now I know my ABCs, thank you God for feeding me.” He likes them all more or less the same, and he uses them with a pretty evenly-divided regularity.

I’d love to learn some new ones, though. What blessings does your family use? Will you share with me here so I can expand our repertoire? That is, if I can convince William…

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Every year, the question comes up:  “What should I give up for Lent?”

It’s a common practice among Christians, giving up something for Lent. It goes along with the whole penitence aspect of the time period. You give up something. You sacrifice. At least theoretically, you are supposed to give up something that means something to you. It’s not really that meaningful to give up running if, in fact, you’re not a runner. It’s not that big a deal to give up chocolate if you rarely eat chocolate.

I fully admit that I almost never give something up and make it all the way through Lent. Some years, I cave halfway through Lent. Some years, I just don’t even try to give something up.

About 10 or 15 years ago, I decided to try something different. I decided to take up something good during Lent, rather than give up something. I tried to drink more milk. Yes, you may be laughing at me right now, but I was sincere. I knew I needed to drink more milk, and it seemed like as good an idea as any. It was still a sacrifice in some small way to drink a big glass of milk each night instead of the Coke that I really wanted.

Three years ago, my Disciple class decided to institute a class-wide Lenten discipline: we would all stop and pray at noon on Fridays during Lent. Even though we would not be together, we would find a sense of community in knowing that we were all praying at the same time.

It almost becomes an endurance test for some people. Or a point of honor for making it all the way through, like the people who power through those Couch to 5K programs. I know some people who fast at certain times during Lent. I know some people who commit to praying every single day for the period of Lent. I know some people who try to give up complaining, hitting the snooze bar, drinking wine, using Facebook or watching television. I have one friend right now who is deliberating whether she should give up Chick-fil-A or Coke this year.

As of yesterday, I still didn’t know what I was going to (try to) do this year.

But today, I had a few free minutes, and I was spending them browsing in a small gift shop called Obelisk, which is located in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville. Obelisk carries handmade jewelry by Freshie & Zero, one of my favorites. I spotted a modest silver cross necklace, and then it hit me. That’s what I needed. That cross necklace.

A number of people at my (very Presbyterian) church have been talking about ways to be more visible with our faith recently. One church friend wears a cross every day during Lent. She does it because it’s not something she might ordinarily do. Often we Presbyterians aren’t very outwardly demonstrative. We don’t want to offend. We aren’t happy-clappy. We don’t wear t-shirts from the Christian bookstore. We are often thoughtful, intellectual and restrained. We do things decently and in order. Those aren’t bad things, not at all. But they do often translate into a quieter, less visible faith.

And that is me, all over. I have friends who are not Christian, and I have never wanted them to feel uncomfortable around me because I am Christian. And part of that stems from the bad rap that some people who call themselves Christian have given the rest of us. I haven’t felt very comfortable wearing a cross because I haven’t wanted others to think that I’m one of those people, the ones who do not represent the Christ I believe in. 

Well, how else am I going to let others know that there are people like me who are Christian, if I don’t give them a sign? Even if–especially if–it makes me feel a little vulnerable and uncomfortable being that upfront?

So here’s my sign. I wore my cross necklace out of the store. I will be wearing it every day during Lent. And hopefully beyond.

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If you are Christian and you’re reading this, what are you doing to honor the observance of Lent? Please leave a comment!

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