Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent for this year. I was encouraged to find out that our local ministerial hosts a series of Lenten lunches during this time. The first one was today and was a meaningful short time of reflection followed by a light lunch. They will be held in the local United Church each Wednesday at lunchtime up until Easter. Although the location is the same each week, the services are led by different churches each week. Our congregation is responsible for March 2. I’m looking forward to this series of lunches as it is not something that happened in our previous community.
You may ask ‘What is Lent?’ My favourite description of what Lent is comes from the introduction to Bread and Wine, a book I have read a few times during the period of Lent and Easter:
First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)
For some people Lent is a time of giving up, for others it is a time of taking on. I like to embrace both of these things and try to incorporate a bit of both into my Lenten observation. For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting upon what I would do during Lent this year. After a fair bit of prayer and reflection I’ve come up with the following:
- Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
- Give up all bread and related products. I really like bread and have lately come to the realisation that I eat too much of it. A regular day might find me eating a couple of waffles, four or more slices of bread, a bagel, a couple of buns, and so on. I’ve probably gained 20lbs since the fall and I know I am suffering for it. Perhaps abstinence from these things during Lent may help me to break this habit.
- Work on fulfilling the Renovaré covenant in more meaningful ways. You can find out more about Renovaré HERE. The covenant states: ‘In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my ever-living Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts, and acts of service.’ I signed it a few years ago, but I need to go back and re-examine it and make it a better part of my life.
Last year praying the Daily Office was one of my goals and, for the most part, I’ve kept that up. So, this will continue to be one of my daily goals. Also, last year I endeavoured to put up a daily Lenten post, but it became a burden as Lent progressed. I have decided that it wouldn’t be helpful to try that again this year, but I’ll try to post some periodic posts and updates.
My main daily resource is the Renovaré publication pictured above – Less is More: A Lenten Guide for Personal Renewal. I just downloaded a copy of it by donation this evening and am looking forward to getting into it before I sleep tonight. It is still available from the Renovaré website.
Following Easter I will try to post an update of how it all went. If you have any thoughts, Lenten experiences, or ideas you would like to share please feel free to post them in the comments section.