The Digest, our Parish magazine, comes out monthly. Here are a couple of articles from March’s edition. To read more, pick up a copy from Church when you are next there.
So what are you giving up for Lent?
The conversation went a bit like this…
‘So, what are you giving up for Lent?…’
‘Chocolate? Coffee? Alcohol?…’
‘How about Facebook? Watching television?…’
‘Erm…well actually I wasn’t planning to give anything up’
‘What??? Call yourself a Vicar!’
I thought that this year I’ll take something up instead, it is called Reverse Lent Challenge. It was something I heard about a few years ago.
You see if I give up stuff for Lent, does it really help me with my Lenten discipline of spending more time with God? Or does it mean I am just on countdown to Easter Sunday when I can have chocolate again?
There are lots of different ways of having a Lenten Discipline. For you fasting from something may be the best way of achieving it.
For me this year, I will have 40 challenges, some of them will be little some much bigger. If you want to try Reserve Lent Challenge, here are some suggestions: Have an empty box, and every day place an item it in to give to a charity, for instance the homeless shelter or women’s refuge.
Buy some notelets and send encouraging hand-written messages or Bible verses to friends or family.
Make a list of little acts of random kindness and do one of them each day during lent, for instance smile at everyone you meet.
Whatever we decide to do or fast from for Lent, let us do it for God!
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Making sense of Lent – Revd Paul Hardingham
This month sees the start of Lent, the six-week period leading up to Easter. In the early Church, it was a time when new converts were instructed in the faith, ready for their baptism at Easter. Over the years, Lent has become a season of penitence, self-examination and fasting. Jesus began His earthly ministry by fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and taught his disciples to fast, ‘when you fast..’ (Matthew 6:17).
Fasting might involve missing one or two meals in a day, refraining from TV or alcohol, or whatever gets in the way of us fully focusing on God. What are the reasons for fasting?
The act of giving up something is a tangible sacrifice to God, reminding us of our desire to put him first in our lives.
Giving up things I value shows me how depend I can be on other things rather than God.
Fasting helps me to surrender my ‘idols’ to God.
When fasting I am reminded of a deeper hunger and need for God in my life: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6). I learn to be more dependent on God, while releasing the stuff I depend on in my life.
Lent can also be a time to embrace new spiritual disciplines eg joining a study group, ‘random acts of kindness’, giving more time to prayer and Bible study Whatever you do, have a great Lent!
‘Jesus takes it for granted that his disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian’s life. Such customs have only one purpose – to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done.’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
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A minister in a little church announced: ‘Before we pass the collection plate, I would like to request that the person who stole the chickens from Brother Martin’s hen house please refrain from giving any money to the Lord. The Lord doesn’t want money from a thief!’ The collection plate was passed around, and for the first time in months everybody gave.