So we’re here again, Lent starts this Wednesday 22nd February this year. Welcome back to my Lenten blog – named after the Orthodox name for this period of reflection and fasting – Bright Sadness.
I always find the liturgical calendar so helpful in orienting myself each year. Lent is a great opportunity to commit to focusing on ‘things above, not on earthly things’ (Colossians 3:2) for six weeks.
If you’re wondering what you might do for Lent this year here are 5 ideas I’ve come up with:
1. Give something up
This is the traditional approach to Lent – committing to fasting. Remember that the point of fasting is to help you get closer to God. If you give something up do think of what you’re going to do with the time that you would have spent doing, eating or drinking that thing and see if you can find something that will help focus you more on God. This could be one of the things I’ve suggested below.
I’m giving up alcohol this year again. Each year it reminds me that God is all I need and that to truly be at peace I don’t need that glass of wine on getting in from a long day at work.
2. Take something up
There is a brilliant initiative called 40 Acts that encourages people to pledge to do 40 positive things in Lent. Do visit the website for inspiration and to make your pledge (making a public pledge will help you to stick to your plans):http://www.40acts.org.uk/ I know someone who’s pledged, for example, to write 3 letters a week to Christians in prison around the world for their faith this Lent.
3. Read Mark’s Gospel along with a huge number of people around the world using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone book with the Big Read 2012
This is all supported by the fantastic Big Bible site in their Big Read project. I will be taking part and my blog posts this Lent will be my reflections on reading Mark this Lent (last year it was Matthew’s Gospel). There are wonderful bible study resources for small groups. If you can’t get to a small group you can join an online one!
4. Listen to the whole of the New Testament
This is a fab initiative from the Bible Society. They’ve made the New Testament available in podcast format along with notes so that you can download them and listen to the New Testament through Lent. The title of the initiative says it all!
Why not download the series and listen to them on your commute to work or as you go to sleep at night?
5. Use Christian Aid’s Count your blessings resources
Each year Christian Aid provides an excellent calendar for Lent that helps you to think of others in need around the world. Download the resources here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved/lent-2012/index.aspx
They also provide a weekly reflection if you want something just once a week in Lent.
Looking forward to journeying with you this Lent!