Have you ever noticed that while Christmas is issued in by weeks and
weeks of preparation and anticipation, Easter comes and goes in a
It is curious to me
that New Church culture has adopted the Old Christian season of
Advent, but has ignored the season of preparation for Easter: Lent.
In the earliest years of my marriage, my husband was a proper ‘bah humbug’ when it came to Christmas. After much discussion (and references to Scrooge) I realized that my husband was frustrated with the out-of-proportion prominence that Christmas received in our culture when compared to Passover. All that fuss to commemorate the Lord’s arrival on earth but hardly a glance at the stories that explain what He actually did when He came here. My husband had a point. Rather than depriving Christmas of all its merriment and pageantry, over the years we have looked for ways to make Easter, or ‘Passover’ as many cultures call it, more special and exciting for our children. We take two weeks off of school. We give large and numerous gifts which we hide for the kids to hunt for on Easter morning. We have a fantastic feast complete with an unusual dessert– we set up a miniature mossy world tablescape where candy bugs and chocolate birdies hide. We even have an Easter story representation. In short, we have tried to add to Easter versions of many of the celebratory components of Christmas.
But the Passover story is decidedly different in tone from the Christmas story. There is a seriousness to the Easter story that the celebration of the Lord’s birth just doesn’t have. And merriment and gift-giving can’t fully capture. And that is where the observance of self-sacrifice during the Lenten season has been valuable for us.
Each year we choose some luxury we will give up as a family for the period of Lent. The idea is that whenever we desire that luxury we will stop and think about the Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifices He made for us. This year we are giving up ‘recreational screens’–no more movies or video games.
There is, of course,
no magic in sacrificing during Lent. The real value in the Lenten
season is not the giving-up in itself but in the preparation and
anticipation for Easter. The season need not be one solely of
sacrifice—we also grow flowers to give at Easter Sunday church and
create special decorations. Yet I’ve found that marking the season
with a little self-sacrifice matches the tone of the Easter story and
the Lord’s sacrifice and love for us. And through choosing to give
up something as a part of Easter preparation, we hope to instill in
our family a different kind of Christian spirit than the ‘spirit of
giving’ which we foster at Christmas time. Another angle to being
A few weeks ago I
got confused and told the boys that Lent began on Feb 12th. When I
realized my mistake and let them know that Lent didn’t, in fact,
begin for two more weeks, the littlest ones were relieved (Yay! Put
Wild Kratts back on!) but one of my elder sons was curiously upset.
He was disappointed, he admitted to me, he had worked hard to prepare
himself for the Lenten season and was ready to make the sacrifices to
remember the Lord…and now he had to wait.
That was an incredibly precious moment for me!
4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.
9 You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.
11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout, yea, they sing.
Today I am 38 weeks pregnant with my sixth child. And, as is usual for me at this point in my pregnancy, I am currently in the throes of intense impatience and longing for my new little one. In my current state, I found it particularly powerful to be reminded at a recent doctrinal class that this coming child is a gift from the Lord which my husband and I are receiving so that may nurture and guide him and then turn around and give him back to the Lord.
“And she brought him up with her when she had weaned him, with three bullocks, and one ephah of meal, and a jug of wine; an she brought him to the house of Jehovah, to Shiloh; and the lad was but a lad. And they slaughtered a bullock, and brought the lad to Eli. And she said, O my lord, by the life of they soul, my lord, I am the woman who stood up with thee in this place to pray to Jehovah. For this lad I prayed, and Jehovah has granted to me my petition which I petitioned of Him. And also I have given back what I asked of Jehovah.” I Samuel 1:24-28
“Spiritual parents love their children for their spiritual intelligence and moral life, loving them thus for their fear of God and for their piety of conduct or life, and at the same time for their affection for and application to useful endeavors of service to society, thus for the virtues and good habits in them. Out of a love for these traits principally do they provide for and supply their needs. Consequently, if they do not see such traits in them, they estrange their heart from them and only out of duty do anything for them. ” Conjugial Love 405
“The nature of the love of little children and love of older children found in spiritual people, and the nature of it in natural ones, is clearly apparent from such people after death. For on arriving in the other world, most fathers remember their children who have passed on before them; and these are also presented to them, and they recognize each other. Spiritual fathers simply look them over and ask them in what state they are, rejoicing if all is well with them, and grieving if it is not. Then, following some conversation, instruction and counsel regarding a heavenly moral life, they part from them, telling them before parting that they are no longer to be remembered as their fathers, because the Lord is the only Father of all who are in heaven (according to His words in Matthew 23:9), and that they will never remember them as being their children. ” Conjugial Love 406
“The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fullness of it; The world, and they who dwell in it.” Psalm 24:1
My husband drew my attention to this gem of a number a few months ago and I was delighted to find such a thorough and orderly layout of the steps on the path to regeneration. From Apocalypse Explained 803:
1. Let him read the Word every day, one or two chapters, and learn from a master and from sermons the dogmas of his religion; and especially let him learn that God is one, and that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, that the Word is holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death.
2. Let him learn from the Word, from a master, and from sermons, what works are sins, and that they are especially adulteries, thefts, murders, false witness, and the others mentioned in the Decalogue; likewise that lascivious and obscene thoughts are also adulteries, that frauds and illicit gains are also thefts, that hatred and revenge are also murders, and that lies and blasphemies are also false witness; and so on. Let him learn all these things from childhood to youth.
3. When man begins to think for himself, which is the case after he has grown up, it must be to him the first and chief thing to refrain from doing evils for the reason that they are sins against the Word, thus against God, and for the reason that if he does them he will gain, not life eternal, but hell; and afterwards as he grows up and becomes old he must shun them as damned, and must turn away from them in thought and intention. But in order to so refrain from them and shun and turn away from them, he must pray to the Lord for help. The sins he must refrain from and must shun and turn away from are chiefly adulteries, frauds, illicit gains, hatreds, revenges, lies, blasphemies, and elation of mind.
Continue reading A Spiritual Growth Plan Straight from Him