Giving up or taking on?

We stand on the brink of the season of Lent and we are anticipating the Ash Wednesday services which will launch us into a period of penitence, prayer and reflection.

Giving something up is common practice and an important part of Lenten discipline and preparation for many Christians. Traditionally some will give up certain treats and luxuries, such as wine, chocolate or a favourite TV programme. 

Depriving ourselves of these pleasures serve in some small way to focus our lives on following Christ more closely. Ultimately it is a form of fasting, which helps us to focus the direction of our lives towards God. 

Lenten observance in the form of self denial should serve to change our lives and strengthen our discipleship. We give up chocolate and alcohol and then on Easter Day enjoy a glass of bubbly and a chocolate Easter egg! A temporary change. 

What about a challenge to ‘take something on’ as an alternative to ‘give something up’? Let us challenge ourselves to do something that will be stretching and demanding to make a positive impact and change to our life and the world around us. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Start Lent by attending one of the services at the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday. (I am certainly not suggesting that attending a service is a demanding and challenging thing!....but should be so at times.) 
  • Make contact with someone whom you haven’t seen for a while and arrange to meet. 
  • Try to look at situations and events through the eyes of others…you may be amazed at what you learn. 
  • At refreshment time, following a service in church, introduce yourself to some one you have not spoken to before. 
  • Determine to learn more about a social issue such as child poverty and human trafficking. 
  • Find out who your MP or local Councillor is (its amazing how many people do not know this) and pray for them or write them an encouraging letter. 
  • Offer some time as a volunteer for a charity or organisation. 
  • Take time to learn about issues that threaten the wellbeing of the environment. 
  • Make more time to pray, read the bible and listen to God. 

Whatever you determine to do this Lent, give up or take on, may it bring you closer to God, strengthen your walk with Christ and impact the world around you for good. 

Yours in Christ 

Canon Keith Farrow