Lent helps us celebrate Easter with fresh eyes, clear hearts

April 20, 2011 

I'm going to warn everyone, the beginning of today's column might be a little dry and geeky, but it gets juicier â€" so stick with it, and you will be rewarded with some actual insight into Lent.

There is a new app for the iPhone called You Version. It is an online Bible with many contemporary and traditional versions. It offers an interesting option of using a reading plan. I recommend it to everyone who has a smartphone, simply for its ease of use.

The front page of my smartphone, which holds all my most-used applications, has become a representation of who I am and what I use in my digital life. The first button is for my email, the next for Twitter, then Facebook and then a Web browser. Other apps on the front page include games, a calendar, contacts and Dropbox, a storage app that has made flash drives unnecessary.

I felt strongly that I should also make a Bible app prominent â€" if only to remind me to do my devotions.

At first, I used Paul Avery's Bible, which was a straight app completely loaded on the phone, but I found that I often didn't open it. Like that huge Family Bible on the coffee table, it gathered dust. Then I started seeing tweets about You Version, so I decided to try it out.

I opened the app and saw the reading plans. I decided in this season of Lent â€" and it is the first time I have ever been at a church that truly celebrated the season of Lent â€" I would dive in.

The app has changed my perspective.

My wife and I went into Lent knowing we would deny ourselves something, or fast, in order to be closer to Christ this season. I thought it was meant just for us to relate to Christ's sufferings. So I chose TV shows (a difficult decision) and, harder still, my wife chose cheese â€" not realizing that almost all the food worth eating is smothered in wonderful cheese.

We denied ourselves and tried hard to be perfect like Christ was perfect.

But we found ourselves stumbling all the time, though not purposefully. We would have breakfast sandwiches and halfway through my wife would lament, "No! I've eaten cheese!" Or I would find that on Thursdays, when my favorite comedies came on, my eyes would wander from the book I was reading to the TV screen. My wife would just shake her head.

It wasn't until I delved into You Version's Lent devotional plan that I started to understand the fullness of what was happening.

In a short paragraph, it was pointed out that in Lent we try and often fail to be like Christ. In its fullness, Lent is about relying on and remembering the grace we have all received because of what Christ did on the cross.

So as we were messing up and crying out in our mistakes â€" much like stubbing your toe and being quite upset â€" we began to see us for what we are: imperfect people who are trying to become more perfect but are still dependant on Christ's sacrifice.

It is all about Jesus! Not our own ability to be stoicists.

As Easter approaches, it has become quite clear to us, thanks to the words sent across the electronic highway of the Internet, that we are still in need of a savior and that we can celebrate Christ's resurrection with fresh eyes and hearts cleared of self-pride.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

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