Lent means “to lengthen”, which occurs when the days lengthen in Spring. It’s a time when we start to see change, and signs of new hope. Lent it seems, it not just for Christians, it’s built into the nations DNA. Like Easter and Christmas, Lent is something even people with no faith take part in, according to a mini survey I recently conducted. People are either giving-up or starting-up something.
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. Lent is a time when we think, and prepare for the great celebration that is Easter, when Jesus rises again. Traditionally people then fasted (gave up some type of food) at this time, in remembrance of what Jesus did.
Chocolate is the most popular thing people are fasting, or giving up today, and it’s no easy task! Lent is synonymous with “giving things up”, and we are using it as an opportunity to get healthy. It seems we long for self-discipline. “I have given up laziness! I've been trying to lose weight for ages but have been lacking in enthusiasm. Lent, for me, was just what I needed to spur me on.” said one earnest respondent.
But people aren’t just giving up things. Do you ever feel like sometimes you are just wandering in the wilderness, and want to try something new, something positive that adds benefit? Perhaps we long for change, that brings with it, a new sign of hope.
Another respondent said “I started running (for the first time in 25 years) just before Christmas, aiming to run the London Marathon in April. My aim for Lent is to go the extra mile every time I run during Lent - which should add up to an extra 30 miles or so training”. Yet another said “I'm learning to love myself because I've only recently really begun to understand that when Jesus said 'love others as you would yourself' - that you have to actually love and respect yourself to be able to love others in the way he instructed.”. So, many of us are on a journey through Lent, reflecting, fasting, but always improving ourselves.
Some of the specific Christian activities that are popular this year are listening to the bible online (from the Bible Society), or signing up for Christian Aid’s “count your blessings” programme.
Whatever you are doing, or not doing, it seems to me, Lent is a personal challenge. I really hope your challenge is working out well, and you are starting to see signs of hope, just like the new life that is stirring as we head towards Spring.
How are you getting on with the Lent challenge?