Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Birch Trees and the Lenten Season

A birch tree, majestically clothed in silver bark, begins to shower the path laden with winter’s leaves.  Another sign that the warm days of spring are here. 
Caleb taps the tree, collecting the sweet sap in an old coffee tin.

Those clear drops are steady into the old vessel, every drop essential to make a syrup

It takes 99 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup

Little one and I venture down the shady path to empty the vessel into a larger potSun streams through those bare trees and her face is all aglow

Spring’s approach is everywhere.  The daffodils are pushing their way up through parched leaves and I am reminded that the Lenten Season is at hand.

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I grew up observing Lent as a Lutheran and then, as I found a non-denominational church in college I strayed from what I traditionally practiced during Lent. 
Which was usually just “giving up” something that I knew wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to sacrifice.  I would occasionally have to ask the Lord to help me put down the Hershey Kiss, but really I wasn’t connecting with the Lord like I knew I should.  As I have become a mother, I have found an increasing appetite to realize the great gift of the  relationship I have with God.  I want my faith to be conscious and deliberate and seasoned with a grateful heart brimming with joy. 
I want my kids to see this reality in my life and want it in their own lives.

I have been prayerfully considering how to draw closer to the Lord during this season and have found these posts to be particularly insightful and inspiring.  This one and this one.  For those of you who are wondering what Lent is about, this post has great explanation.  I am finding myself needing to unplug from the very alluring facebook and plug into the Word of God.  I am also wanting to increase discipline in certain areas such as prayer.

I really love the way Edie summarizes these “stray thoughts” on Lent in this post:

1. Lent is a time for penitence and reflection and the practicing of christian discipline. It does not make God ‘more pleased with me’ and is not a ‘good work’. God is pleased with Christ alone and good works are those things which I do in service to my neighbor.
2. If I purpose to ‘give something up’ for Lent and then two weeks later find that I fail and can’t keep my lenten discipline, God is not disappointed in me. God is pleased with Christ and thus pleased with me when I have faith in Christ. I am a sinner who fails and sins constantly. And my failing is not a surprise to God.
3. If I keep my lenten discipline to the ‘tee’, I must be careful not to try and convince myself that I’m ‘more spiritual’ or holy than before. I have been freely clothed with the righteousness of Christ and am only learning to ‘fit’ into clothes that were given me by God.
4. We must also be careful not to view our discipline as ‘suffering’ and remember that Christ suffered on the cross for our redemption and we do not get to choose our own suffering (by giving up, say diet pepsi for a month).
5. It is a good exercise to occasionally deprive our bodies, to not give in to every fleshly desire. We are so often slaves to our own bodies and teaching ourselves discipline in any area is often met with resistance.

Just like that birch tree that is fully clothed in radiant silver bark, I know that the righteousness that I have is only a gift from the Lord through my faith in Christ, and apart from Him and His blood, I am a sinner.  During this season, I want to fully realize the great gift that I have through Christ’s sacrifice.  Just as every drop of the sap in that old vessel is necessary to make a syrup, I want to know and realize the value of Christ.  I hope to record what the Lord is teaching me in this season through more frequent posts.

3 comments:

Meredith said...

Love your post, Tyne. I am right with you in your thought process. Keep us posted on how God reveals Himself to you during this season.

Cheryl said...

I loved this post, Tyne! Glad to be on this journey of faith with you, my friend!

Laural Out Loud said...

I grew up Christian in a non-denomination church, so it's no surprise that that's the kind of church I go to now. But lately it's really been on my heart to bring God into my home on a much deeper level. I've been reading about the liturgical calendar and talking to some Orthodox friends, and I think things are going to change around here! I won't join another church, but observing some beautiful traditions, like Lent, seems like a wonderful way to connect to our faith.