What are you giving up this Lent?

We are entering the season of Lent: 40 days from Ash Wednesday, February 14, to sunset on Holy Saturday, March 31 (the day before Easter). Since the time of the early church, Christians have used the 40 days prior to Easter as a time of preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the days we remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. The number 40 is very symbolic in the Scripture.

40 years was the journey through the desert from Egypt to promise land; Moses fasted for 40 days when he communed with the Lord on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:28). Elijah fasted for 40 days on his journey to meet God at Horeb (1 Kings 19:8); Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert to prepare for his public ministry (Matt. 4:1–11).

During Lent, Christians have traditionally engaged in practices of self-denial, like fasting, meant to orient our hearts and minds to the sufferings of Christ.  Perhaps we give up some type of food, a habit, an activity or an addiction. In making a sacrifice, we can become more aware of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and let go of whatever keeps us from preparing our spirit for the celebration of Easter. Giving up is a wonderful spiritual discipline.

Nevertheless, there is another discipline that has been emerged in recent years that I find even more powerful and life changing. It is the discipline of giving back.  Imagine every day during Lent waking up in the morning, and in prayerful reflection ask yourself:

     How can I offer peace to someone today?

     How can I bring a smile to someone’s face?

     How can I say words of healing?

     How can I show love to someone?

     How can I forgive someone?

Everyday becomes an opportunity to recognise God’s love in your life and give back that love to those who God sends in your path. Every day it becomes a walk with Jesus toward the cross, by doing what Jesus did. Sometimes it may involve a material gift, sometimes a gift of time, other times, a gift of self. Every day though, it requires paying attention to God and those who are in your life or happen to cross your path.

Consider giving back this Lent. It will change your life and fill you with blessings!

Love and Prayers From

Rev Cliff Shanganya ( Methodist Church Minister)