Exodus and Calendars and Lent and Books

Exodus

Each weekday morning, our family gathers on Vanessa’s and my bed to read the Bible and pray together. Since we are studying Exodus at Vintage this year, we decided to read it as a family in the mornings. On Tuesday, Calvin read Exodus 12 for us. And verse 2 captured my imagination. In it God is talking to Moses and Aaron. God says,

This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.

 

Calendars

There are many calendars in our world. By “calendars” I don’t mean the paper or electronic devices on which we record our appointments. I mean ways of dividing our days, the seasons by which order our lives.  

Last year, we heard an inordinate amount about the Mayan calendar. I recently heard an Orthodox friend talking about how his church uses the Julian rather than Gregorian calendar. Different cultures, different peoples, different religions have different ways of dividing the days, the months, and the years.

And people live by a calendar.

Some people live by the sports calendar, ordering their lives by the particular athletic season. Others live by the TV guide, determining how they spend their time and energy based on what shows are on when. Some families are driven by the school calendar. In my work, we talk about “busy seasons” and “slow seasons” that impact our production and bottom line.

In Exodus 12.2, God seems to be suggesting to Moses and Aaron that they could have a new way to mark the time. They had a calendar and schedule that they lived by when they were in Egypt. Now, that they were leaving, their calendar needed to change. They were to mark their days and years differently. Something new was starting. It was a new day, a new year, a whole new calendar.

It is possible to change the calendar that marks your days.

 

Lent

I used to live by the calendar of my culture. It had important and memorable seasons – back to school, football season, the Christmas season, the blahs of February, March Madness, summer.

But in recent years, my calendar has begun to change.

The change started with the observance of Advent. Like so many others, I got to Christmas Day feeling exhausted, depressed, and discouraged. The holiday was more about the gifts than anything else. But when our community began mark the weeks leading up to Christmas as an opportunity to prepare for the arrival of Jesus, my mindset about Christmas began to change. We now have an advent calendar in our home that helps us anticipate the coming of Jesus on a daily in the lead-up to the holiday. In so doing, we’ve begun to notice that our priorities and perspectives have changed.

This past year at Vintage, we spent some time marking what the church has called “Ordinary Time.” We recognized that we don’t need celebrations and ceremony to find God. In fact, since most of our days are remarkably ordinary, we had better be able to connect with the divine in the midst of “ordinary time.” It was a wonderful season for us, and I can’t wait for it this year.

determine-lent-ecard-someecardsBut all of this leads me to the season that began yesterday. Now is the season of Lent. Like Advent prepares us for Christmas, Lent prepares us for Easter. It is a season to enter into the story, to walk with Jesus and know his sacrifice and sorrow.

It’s a season to experiment with living differently. In fact, Lent is a wonderful season that reminds us that our lives don’t have to be the way they have been. We don’t have to be stuck in a rut. We can change and be different. We can go 40 days without chocolate or beer or Facebook. We can add a new habit or discipline to our lives. For me, Lent is an immensely hopeful season.

 

Books

Lent feels like it snuck up on me this year. I checked the calendar and, sure enough, it started 9 days earlier this year than last. Some years, I’ve spent a lot of time getting myself prepared for Lent, thinking about my lenten fast, and gearing up for the season. I don’t feel like I even had the chance to do that this year. It just kind of felt like I woke up one day and realized it was Ash Wednesday. But I’m awake to the fact now. This is the calendar I live by, this is the season I am in, these are the days I’m living.

In past years, I have done some pretty big lenten fasts. I have given up beer and hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. Things like that. This year, I didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth for a major deletion from my life so I decided to go the opposite route and add something to my routine. I’ve never taken this tack before during Lent. So, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

As odd as it may sound, I have decided to read every day during Lent this year. I love to read. I read a lot. But reading is also something that can easily be shoved aside by other things. For the next 40 days, it’s not going to be shoved aside. For at least 30 minutes a day (and hopefully more), I am going to sit down with a (hopefully good) book.

It is Lent. It’s an important time in my calendar. And I’m glad it’s here.

 

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  • ChristiMadrid

    Last year was the first year we celebrated Lent and we did so by adding something in as well. We decided to celebrate as a family and do something together rather than individually. We added a homeless outreach on Saturday mornings. Which, we quickly realized, was actually a sacrifice of Saturday morning sleep. Ha! But like you, I was taken aback by Lent this year and we’ve dropped the ball. Tomorrow night is our Lent discussion. I’m anticipating a fabulous season.

    • rryerse

      Christi, that is awesome. Good for you guys. I hope you have a great time this year too.