Several months ago as I was planning for spring, I noticed something really odd — something I had never seen before in my life. (It hasn’t happened since 1945.) Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are the same day. And … Easter falls on April 1 (April Fool’s Day).
Ash Wednesday kicks off the season of Lent, the weeks where Christians have historically fasted and given up worldly pleasures prior to Easter. And this year Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. (What is Lent? and other questions we have about this season.) What will you do?
- Will you be giving up chocolate, meat, or caffeine?
- Will you be giving up sweets?
- Will you give up alcohol, social media, TV?
I find it very interesting how much emphasis gets put on what we give up, but very little gets shared about what we gain. When we give up social media, or television, or even a meal, we gain time in our schedule to read, study, pray, meditate.
Fasting is all about connecting to God. It heightens our awareness of the source of our provision and reminds us of our connection to God. I know fasting isn’t easy, or something many of us practice these days, but I appreciate these words from Jen Hatmaker on fasting. “A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves” Andrew Murray put it this way, “Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
- I wonder, what you will give up this year?
- Also, what will you take on?
A couple of interesting and different suggestions:
- Write a letter or email each day (40 days) to someone who touched your life in one way or another.
- Give up forks and spoons. Use chop sticks or hands…
I am sure it will bring some great conversation with friends and with God.
- Turn off your phone during your fasting lunch time and go for walk or read from scripture.
- Do one random act of kindness each day.
- Give up the snooze button on your alarm clock.
I am contemplating giving up TV again this Lent. I have done it once before … but the Winter Olympics are making it very challenging. What I know for sure is that I am going to fast two days a week, giving up my lunch meal and using the money I would have spent as part of my gift to our Lenten / Easter Miracle offering.
I challenge you to pick something to take on, or to give up. And then I hope you will share with me and others what you are gaining through this year’s Lenten season.
- What is God teaching you?
- What is God impressing upon you?
- Where are you finding Jesus?
I look forward to seeing you worship this week. Don’t forget we have opportunities all day February 14 for you to come and get your Ashes and to start your Lent off right.