Christmas has come and gone, we are now well into the New Year. The shops are already selling chocolate eggs in preparation for the next big holiday on our calendar: Easter.
But 40 days before Easter I intend to log off Facebook and not go back on again until after the Easter long weekend. It will be the second time I have done this actually, the first time being last year.
The traditional church calendar
Easter and Christmas are the two big events that we tend to celebrate as part of our faith. But like a lot of evangelicals in recent years I have become more aware that the traditional church year is larger than just these two events.
As Christians have begun to have more interest in the history of their faith and a desire to have continuity with the past, we realise that there are a number of other significant festivals in the church year such as epiphany and pentecost as well as advent and lent, the periods of time leading up to Christmas and Easter respectively.
As I have become interested in the traditional church calendar I have had a desire to experience worship as it has been practiced in the Christian church throughout the ages. Reading a few books has given me a fair amount of information about this as well as inspiration and revelation about the wisdom of structured worship.
We all have things around which we build our lives. Most of us have routines, rhythms and structures that are a regular part of our lives and form the patterns and habits that influence our behaviour and lifestyle. We are creatures of habit. Some of these patterns can be positive, but often we get caught in bad or unhelpful habits.
The Bible talks a lot about discipline and building our life in a way that centres upon Christ and his purposes. Over time Christians have sought to build structures that help them to make that a reality in their lives. The Christian year is one of these.
Simplify and focus on God
At the beginning of last year as I was planning and praying about the year ahead I felt inspired by God to give up Facebook for lent. Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter. It is symbolic of Jesus' 40 days being tested in the desert and is traditionally a time of prayer, fasting and repentance. As part of the fast, it is common for people to give up something from their life for the duration of lent, in order to help them focus on God more.
I had heard about lent before but had never really thought seriously about practicing it until this time. I knew that I needed a good break from Facebook. Before this time I had barely gone for more than one or two days without checking in to my account.
I found that Facebook at times was addictive, a distraction and I spent far too much time on it mindlessly scrolling the news feed. This was the perfect opportunity to have a solid break from it for a change.
It was also an opportunity to centre my life around prayer and repentance before God instead of frivolous time wasting habits. It was a time to build an attitude of valuing spiritual discipline to be carried on in the rest of the year following Easter. It was an opportunity to build greater simplicity and focus on the things that really matter in life.
At the end of the 40 days, after Easter, I felt so liberated and free. I felt refreshed. Giving up something that had been such a big part of my life made me realise how little I really needed Facebook and enabled me to go back to it with a fresh perspective. It has spurred me on to continue to work on making the spiritual discipline of simplicity an integral part of my everyday life.
Conor is from Adelaide South Australia. He gardens and mows lawns for a living and is involved in several ministries. He loves God, music, reading and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.