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Thursday, 3 March 2011

What are you taking up for Lent?

Lent begins next week. Sometimes I miss the beginning entirely, swamped by 'things' and trivialities. I want to mark it, observe it, but I easily forget it. As for giving things up -well, sometimes I do, but not always. I feel it can become a bit too automatic. Lent = giving something up. I always want to think about the why - or the because. If I give something up 'because it's Lent' it can feel somewhat dreary and unimpressive. I want to be reminded of the greater why, the greater because. I want to think about journey, about discipleship, about re-focusing my mind.

But sometimes I think I need to set myself the opposite challenge - not to give something up but to take something up. To introduce a new discipline, a new way of constructing my days, a new way of thinking about things. This could be exploring other traditions - looking at the 'liturgy of the hours', marking time with prayer and reflection. It could be simply determining to create space for something I feel I am neglecting - and trying to foster and encourage a new spirituality, a new focus. And if I do give something up - who benefits?

I suspect that many of us in giving up something are doing it for our own benefit. Lent becomes a useful tool, a backdrop, for something we want to deal with anyway. It gives us an added edge, a more enforced discipline. But what do we do with the time we save by giving up, say, computer games? Or the money we save by not buying chocolate? (Two fairly common examples). Do we simply fritter away the saved time or money on other things, other treats? Or do we think - i want to take the me-ness out of this and add other-ness, God-ness even.

Water Aid have been running a Lent campaign where they suggest that people get together and save up 'jars of change' - the money they would have been spending on whatever it is they've given up. This money goes towards safe and accessible water for the world's communities.  Their website has plenty of resources available to use.

What about time? Time saved to be spent discovering more and different ways of reading the bible, trying to engage with it. This can be individual, but doing it together can really help inspire and challenge us. What about taking a look at the Biblefresh initiative?

Biblefresh is a movement of churches, agencies, organisations, colleges and festivals which has a vision to reignite and re-enthuse the church in its passion for the Bible. For many in our churches the Bible has become tedious and toxic rather treasured, trusted and true. The aim of the Biblefresh initiative is to encourage a greater confidence and passion for Scripture across the Church.

So, am I giving anything up? As I'm already cutting out dairy and yeast from my diet, this kind of giving up is a little over familiar at the moment.  I expect I will try and give up some time wasting elements in my life, but I want to be able to use that 'extra' time wisely and well.

So for that reason I am asking myself this question:

What are you taking up for Lent?


Update: for some reason my reader comments had been disallowed for this post.  Please feel free to make up for it! 


Emma Major said...

amazing post Lucy, given me lots to think about, thanks

Lucy said...

Thanks Emma - now to see if I practise what I preach! At least I've started thinking about it slightly in advance this year, which is an improvement on the norm!

Penelopepiscopal said...

I like the practice of putting the money one saves on what is given up (chocolate, coffee, wine, etc) into a jar (or whatever) and then giving it away, but my own practice is to take something on instead. For all the reasons you mention - that giving up is often self-serving, that the point is supposed to be refocusing and realigning, which is another way of using time wisely. Last year, I started blogging just before Lent and set out to post prayers morning, noon, evening and night plus one reflection. It took up a lot of time but it was both therapeutic for me (I had just left my job) and also made space for a little community that gathered for prayers and reflection every day. Several people used by blog for their own Lenten spiritual practice.

I have not decided definitely what I am doing this year, but like you, I have a few more days!

Nancy Wallace said...

I'm still thinking about what to give up and take up. I like the idea of doing both in a linked way e.g. give up something that what would cost money and give the money to a good cause. I hope you have a creative and blessed Lent.

Penelopepiscopal said...

Here are some more ideas -

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster