Just a reminder that Lent begins this week on Wed Feb 18th.
Lent isn’t a command found in the Bible, it is a Spiritual Practice that some followers of Jesus have found useful as part of their spiritual journey.
Some people decide to fast from something, some people decide to take something extra on, and others do a little of both.
For fasting you could decide to give something up that you like (coffee, chocolate, TV, facebook, meat, sugar, etc…). Because you have given up something that is a regular part of your life, as you miss or crave that coffee, you are reminded that Easter is coming, and are given multiple small opportunities each day to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I find it helpful to not fast on Sundays so that there is a rhythm of fasting and feasting over lent. I’m giving up coffee this year, so all week as I want my coffee, my fast is tied into thoughts of the Sacrifice on Good Friday, but on Sundays I will feast and be sure to have my coffee, and that ritual of breaking my fast will be tied into thoughts of Resurrection, Easter, the Sabbath Rest.
One last thought on fasting, I think it is healthy to only fast from something that is essentially a good thing to keep in your life long term. What I mean by this is that I don’t think it is healthy to use a Lent Fast as a way to diet, or quit smoking. Lent is a season and we are giving up something as a sacrifice, that we can then take up again in our feasting. Trying to improve your diet or stop a destructive habit are good things but I think they are something different than Lent.
For taking something extra on, there are lots of good ideas. Here are some things that I’ve heard other people have tried:
- Try a Spiritual Practice (lectio divina, sabbath, breath prayer, etc…). talk to anyone who has been part of the Supper Club for ideas.
- Set aside a time to read your Bible or another book that will help you learn something about God.
- Write Letters. I know someone who last year wrote a hand written letter and mailed it each day to a different friend or family member.
- Volunteer your time.
- Learn a skill, take a class.
What ever you decide, be intentional, anything you take on needs a plan, if you haven’t set aside a time/place for the activity you have taken on it most likely isn’t going to happen. In some ways taking something on is also a fast, you are fasting from the time you would have used to do something else.
Lastly, I think it is very important to not lose hope. If you find 2 weeks from now that things aren’t going as you planned (your fast is too hard, you haven’t been consistent with what you took on, etc…) don’t despair, use the reminder of your imperfection to think about how we need God’s grace in all things. Perhaps you need to modify your fast or you need to rearrange your time/routine to be more supportive of what you are trying to do. It is OK to acknowledge to God that something is hard. Jesus did exactly that shortly before his death when he prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.But do what you want, and not what I want.” (Matt 26:39 CEV).
All that being said, give some thought to Lent today and see if you can find a way to be in Solidarity with Jesus as we move towards the season of the Cross.