The beginning of March sees us celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes and then on Ash Wednesday the season of Lent begins. I wonder what “Lent” means to you?
Is it a time of abstention from something you like? If so, I wonder what it is that you give up? Chocolate? Alcohol? Sweets? Biscuits? Cake? Lent has always been a time of making space for something more worthwhile; a time of denying yourself something you really enjoy. In the Christian church, the season of Lent leads up to the celebration of Easter, and so it is a time of spiritual discipline; a time of keeping up an endeavour or abstaining from certain activities.
These days we have Dry-January and Veganuary where there is the encouragement to have a rest from alcohol for a month or try living on a vegan diet for a month. I must admit I haven’t tried either of these.
What about social media abstinence? How hard would that be? But how much time would you free up if you laid down your phone or tablet, even for a day a week? What would you be able to get done? What quality time would you be able to have with friends and family?
But Lent isn’t just about giving something up?
Last year some friends and I gave up chocolate (well one cut down on how much chocolate he ate) and we gave the money to charity. It wasn’t just giving up chocolate, there was a purpose. To use what we saved for charitable purposes – for much needed resources for children on the African continent.
It’s not unusual after Christmas or before the summer holidays to hear of men and women going back to the gym to re-tone their bodies, having indulged over Christmas or getting bikini-ready. We don’t think anything of that – it’s part of our culture. So why not spend a few weeks (six, to be exact) working on the quality of your spiritual life; restoring or discovering new spiritual muscles.
Reading a book that is inspirational or educational is what many Christians do. For some, it will also involve meeting together to share what is being learnt with others, not unlike a Book Club, but with the interest of developing or deepening relationship with Jesus at the centre.
This year, a group from Burgh Castle will be looking deeper into the Beatitudes; the famous sermon on the mount given by Jesus. We shall be discovering more about the unexpected and often challenging vision Jesus sets out in this crucial part of his teachings.
The ME I want to BE (becoming God’s best version of you) is the theme for the Sunday sermons and Lifegroups during Lent. We shall be looking at how we see ourselves (our identity), and subjects such as renewing our mind, redeeming our time, and deepening our relationships.
The discipline of spending a little bit more time reading the Bible and praying is what strengthens and tones a Christian’s spiritual life.
So, the question we all might ask ourselves; what condition is your body and soul in? Are you in need of putting a bit of work in to restore the tone and quality of your physical and spiritual life? It might mean giving up something you enjoy. It will require discipline. It will require effort. Make the most of this season of Lent, when others are working on it too, and be encouraged.