By LINDA M. LINONIS
The topic, “Give Up Something Bad for Lent,” enticed participants to attend a Lenten Bible study at First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave.
The sessions, which began last week, are scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through April 17 in the parlor.
The Rev. Carolyn Griffeth, interim pastor, leads the study. She borrowed the topic from a book of the same name by James Moore. Other sources, she noted, are “Forgiveness, A Lenten Study” and “Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back.”
The Rev. Mrs. Griffeth began the study with prayer, asking that participants open their minds. Then she asked the 10 participants what Lent meant. The range of responses noted Lent as a time to evaluate one’s self, be closer to Jesus, a time of reflection and time to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and what it means.
Mrs. Griffeth said everyone might remember different Lenten experiences. For her, Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday were the most-vivid memories.
She asked what believers should be doing during the 40 days of Lent. Discipline was mentioned.
The minister suggested that what participants may focus on should extend beyond the 40 days and “take you back to God in a different way.” Making it meaningful is key, she said.
Participating in Lent, she said, is part of a faith journey.
“Are you a good witness for God’s people to those who don’t go to church?” Mrs. Griffeth asked.
Maybe Lent, the time of reflection, is the time to change our relationship with God, family and friends for the better. “What gets in our way?” Mrs. Griffeth asked participants. “What barriers do we put up?”
Relating to the study topic, participants offered ideas on “bad” behavior and attitudes to give up. Among those were being judgmental, selfishness, impatience and being unforgiving.
Lenten reflection may help us “discipline ourselves in a different way,” Mrs. Griffeth said. “It’s about better use of our time and behavior.”
The group agreed learning to be more forgiving was among the biggest challenges. “People struggle with that,” the minister said.
“The world says, ‘Don’t get mad, get even,”’ Mrs. Griffeth said, noting that Jesus taught the value of forgiveness. Scripture has multiple stories about forgiveness and Jesus asked that people be forgiven even as he was dying on the cross.
The group mentioned that people often “give up” something such as chocolate or a favorite food, then look forward to eating it on Easter. But they acknowledged that was on the superficial side.
And, instead of giving something up, participants said, some churches focus on doing something positive, such as a volunteer project to benefit a family or agency in need.