Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Ideas for Lent

Lent is due to start tomorrow, and like many other people I have been thinking about how to observe this special season.  Many people I know try to give up sweets and alcohol during Lent, and whilst I think depriving of ourselves of things we enjoy, and trying to live more simply is a great idea, I do worry that sometimes we do it for the wrong reasons.  The focus during Lent should be on how we can nurture and develop our relationship with God, not simply an opportunity to loose a few pounds, or go on an alcohol detox (no matter how good this may be).

I don't think that fasting is a bad idea, quite the opposite I think it's a great idea, but I think it is important that we think through why we are fasting, and what we hope to achieve through our fasting.  But what about a different type of fast?  For example fasting from social media, spending less time on Facebook and Twitter, and using the time saved to pray more, read the Bible, go for a walk, or spending time in face to face contact with family and friends.  Or how about fasting from TV, or going on a carbon fast - walking or cycling to work or school, rather than using the car.  

The focus during Lent should not only be on what we can give up, but also on new things we can do.  So for example, one of our Lenten disciplines this year is to set aside two days during Lent, to go away by myself in order to spend the day to do some reading and praying, and most importantly of all waiting on God.  

If you're stuck with ideas on how to use Lent, why not check out these pages, which are full of creative ideas and suggestions on how to observe this special season.

  • 40 Acts - sign up as an individual, family, church, small group, workplace, school or youth group, in order to receive 40 simple inspiring acts of generosity to do during Lent.

  • 15 Ways To Fast For Lent - 15 creative fasts for Lent, including fasting from TV, money, sex and even church!
  • Love Life Live Lent - Do you ever wish the world could be a better place? Do you think that if only people could be more caring, more generous, less selfish, more loving, that the world we live in would be so different? Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' What he meant is that if we want the world to be a better place, each one of us has to change it ourselves, one action at a time. Why not start this Lent?

    From Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) to Easter Day there is an action for you to do on six days in each week of Lent. The actions are quite simple. What makes them challenging is how you do them, and if we all do them, then the world really could become the place that God wants it to be: one person at a time, one action at a time.

  • 40 Ideas For Lent - lots of imaginative ideas for Lent.
  • What To Give Up For Lent - 25 Creative Ideas - Here are some very unconventional ideas of what to give up during Lent.  Many of the ideas come from teenagers.
  • Count Your Blessings - Christian Aid's Lent Resources, aimed at helping people count their blessings, and also to raise money for Christian Aid. They have resources for adults and children, which are free to download.  There is even a 'Count Your Blessings' app that you can download onto your phone or tablet.
  • I'm Not Busy - helping people to give up busyness for Lent. On the website it states 'People who give up busyness for Lent will each find their own way of doing it. However, the core idea is to spend a limited time each day – between 10 and 30 minutes - doing absolutely nothing, just letting time pass.'  The website includes 10 top tips on how to not be busy (assuming you're not too busy to visit the site!)
These are just a few of the websites I've found giving some great ideas on how to observe Lent. Lent is a wonderful opportunity to make more time and space for God in our lives, learn to live more simply, and to appreciate those things that we often take for granted.  However you choose to observe Lent, I hope it is a fruitful and enriching time for you.

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