I wonder if you’re among those who give up chocolate for Lent, or maybe like my daughter it’ll be crisps (she does like crisps more than chocolate!) or, like my son told us a few years ago, he’d be giving up broccoli this year for Lent (he doesn’t like or eat broccoli… ever!!).
Yes it’s February already and Lent is fast approaching. I find quite a lot of people give up something for Lent and why not?! Or actually I want to ask, “Why?” What are they doing it for? A lot of people I talk to don’t really seem to know, except perhaps that they’re doing it as some sort of exercise in self-discipline or even hoping to be slightly healthier by the end of it. Fair enough I suppose but is that really what it’s meant to be about?
I know a lady who doesn’t give anything up for Lent, but instead does something extra (no not to do with chocolate). Usually this has been to organise a weekly lunch for the period of Lent, invite speakers to talk about aspects of Christian faith and people to come and share a simple lunch, fellowship, to listen and to reflect. I think she is pretty close to the mark.
Lent isn’t exactly Biblical but it has been part of Christian tradition from early on. To begin with it was a period of preparation, a time of concentrated study and prayer for those who were getting ready for their baptism which would have taken place early on Easter Sunday morning celebrating the resurrection life of Jesus. And the rest of the church community joined in the preparation too, taking time to seek spiritual renewal and increasingly focus on the Easter story and what it means to be part of Christ’s body, the Church.
There is also perhaps an element of fasting in giving up something for Lent and fasting is about making a sacrifice to seek God more intensely, more fervently. You could say it’s about giving something else up to make more time to pray and seek God. So that’s what I encourage you to do.
At Emmanuel we are planning a Lent course on Wednesday evenings and also some prayer resources for people to follow. We make it of our preparation and build-up through Lent as we journey together toward Good Friday and the cross and our celebrations on Easter Sunday.
If you are going to give something up for Lent, why not use the giving up as a means of prompting you to seek more of God. Every time you miss whatever you’ve given up, say a prayer instead.
If you’re not giving up something for Lent, why not choose a way to put extra effort into seeking more of God. Try taking time to seek spiritual renewal and increasingly focus on the Easter story.
God encourages us to seek Him and really does want us to discover the wonder and blessing of His presence in our lives.
Yours in Christ,
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…