22 Feb 2019 • Articles
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, March 2nd this year, so for those who have promised to give up sweets, chocolate, beer, cigarettes, or any other luxuries or vices, how are you managing? Fortunately, there are only forty days in Lent, so the Lenten Fast is not as demanding as keeping New Year resolutions, but six weeks can still seem like a long time.
Why give up anything for Lent? Three reasons: to remember Jesus fasting in the wilderness as he prepared for his ministry, to break bad habits, and to prove to ourselves that we can do without many things which we often take for granted. Some people prefer to take up something useful for Lent. Sewing or knitting or collecting money for charity, eating fruit or more vegetables, listening to the news and praying for the people and situations in the reports. These are all good ideas.
One year, when I was preparing for 'O' Levels at school, I gave up cycling to school and walked the three miles there and back each day instead. I have never been energetic, so that started off by looking like a real sacrifice, but the quiet walk in the mornings gave me time to clear my mind of any worries or exciting distractions before the day's lessons began, and the calm stroll home again let me think over the day's studies and events, making sense of whatever the teachers or my classmates had said. By the time the Easter holidays came, I had gained more confidence and greater powers of reasoning, as well as valuing my bicycle and its saddlebag much more!
The last week of Lent is Holy Week, when we think of the greatest sacrifice of all, Jesus giving his life for us, so if you are not already a churchgoer, Lent is a good time to start.