I get asked this a lot: “what are you giving up for Lent?” “what are you taking on?” It’s a hot topic of conversationsover post-service coffee in churches the world over at this time of year, I imagine.
This year, I really haven’t known what to say. There’s nothing jumping out at me as the thing to do/not do. Last year I gave up using my snooze button, which was great for that season, but these days I tend to wake before the alarm anyway. I loved doing #adventbookclub, but my New Year’s Resolution to read a proper book every month is going so well (far exceeding target so far) that taking on more reading doesn’t seem particularly relevant. I try to avoid anything which might tip over into more “self-improvement” than “drawing close to God”. So although it would be good to get more exercise, eat less pizza, and get on top of my filing, I’m not making any of those my Lenten discipline.
Which got me thinking about why we do things for Lent in the first place. If something is just for show, or so we have a good answer to “what are you doing for Lent?”, or because we feel like we ought to be doing something, is that really what Lent should be about? I don’t think so.
So while there are things I’ll be doing this Lent to help keep my focus on God and my spirit in the wilderness, I’m not giving something up, and I’m not taking something up. Instead, this is what I’ll be trying to do:
- Evening Prayer: as a church, we’re taking up daily evening prayer during Lent. I’ll be there as often as I can.
- Eating simply: not giving up a specific food, but choosing the simpler option. Digestives instead of jaffa cakes, water instead of wine, beans instead of meat.
- Slowing down: I walk most places, and usually at quite a lick, with one eye on my watch. I’m going to make an effort to set off earlier and walk more slowly. Maybe I’ll have more random conversations around the parish. Maybe I’ll have more time to think and pray.
- Praying for people I find difficult: I’ve done this every year for quite a while. Pick three people I find it hard to get on with. Pray for them daily. Be amazed at what God does.
So nothing earth-shattering. Nothing big. Just quietly making a bit more space for God. We’ll see how it goes.