What does Lent mean to you? Do you have ideas, practices or emotions associated with the season?

For many who grew up in the church, Lent used to be a time to “give something up.” In solidarity with Jesus’ fast in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, it was a moment to relinquish something of value to us — to test ourselves so to speak. To learn greater discipline. To find that life goes on without the things we “think” we can’t live without. This remains an interesting practice that you might consider. Giving up chocolate, limiting time on your device each day, or giving up some other bad habit you’ve developed is not a bad idea at all.

The alternative that emerged in response to the same old, same old was that Lent was a time to “take something new up.” Rather than a negative objective, Lent should be a time to add something positive. Call your mom every day (or at some other interval that won’t annoy her), add more encouragements or compliments into your everyday relationships, commit to exercising, read scripture or a devotional every day, etc. All of these are good ideas as well, which you still have time to consider during this season.

Both of these practices, whether negative or positive in focus, require some extra exertion or intentionality. To me, they have always felt like spiritual versions of New Year’s Resolutions, which inevitably fall to the wayside, which may be why I rarely hear widespread use of these traditions anymore — though I’m sure some of you may still do this!

Perhaps it’s lowering the bar, but I would suggest that rather than adding anything new and challenging, or trying to give something up that will test your mental and emotional fortitude, it might be helpful to simply identify your preferred way of engaging spiritually. This may be attending worship (yes, your pastor would love that), reading a favorite devotional or scripture, listening to sacred music, or spending time in the places that stir your spirit. Once you’ve identified that one thing, just remember to do that this Lent! This doesn’t need to be heavy lifting. Make it a time of joy and renewal. Happy Lent!

Be well,
Pastor Jon
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