The season of Lent is upon us – a season that perhaps many of us aren’t quite sure what to do with apart from giving up chocolate, alcohol, or something else that we’re not quite sure we really want to give up, or understand why we’re giving it up anyway!
Lent is a season that the Church has held since its earliest years where the 40 days before Easter were spent ‘training’ new Christians in what it meant to be a Christian before they were baptized on Easter Day. As the world increasingly became more Christian, and children were baptized, so the focus of Lent began to shift away from preparing new Christians in the faith to a renewing and refreshing of all Christians in faith that they might better and more fully become the people Christ would have them be.
This remains the focus for Lent – a chance for each one of us to look afresh at the things we thought we knew so well – including ourselves. To see ourselves as we really are, and particularly those things that keep us from being the people God would have us be – we need to take action. But what action should we take? Below are some ideas of the actions we might engage in this Lent that will help us to become more of who God would have us be.
- Give something up that gives us pleasure. Why? As a discipline to help us learn self-control and to free our minds from the chase after material things. Such a fast also helps us to be truly thankful to God when we come to break it (it’s hard to be thankful in an age when we can have whatever we want, when we want it), and helps us to relate to Christ in his sufferings.
- Give something up that we take for granted. Why? To help us let go of something that might be having a negative hold over our lives and to help us once again see the real value of what we already have. Such a giving up may involve not watching TV or playing computer games or ‘recreational’ shopping or ???.
- It’s easier to give up something for Lent if you’ve got something to start with. Far too many people in the world don’t even have life’s basics. When we give something up we can use the money saved to give to a charity such as Christian Aid which seeks to help those in desperate need.
- Take up something for Lent such as reading a Lent book or joining a Lent study group or setting aside a short time for prayer each day or taking up some new creative hobby that will remind you of the creative God in whose image you are made.
The over-arching theme of Lent is repentance – a word which means to ‘turn away from’. All of the above activities can help us to turn away from things that keep us from having a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father so that we might better ‘see’ both him and ourselves more clearly and thereby have a greater understanding of who we were made to be. When we understand this, Lent can become an adventure that leads us to new life, new hope and new faith.
I wish you all a refreshing and holy Lent.
Yours in Christ,