reframing lent

Lent is upon us. For those who are unsure of what that means, lent is a forty day long period of fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter. I have not, as of yet, sat down to contemplate what that might mean for me this year, ie: what it is that I am going to deny myself of leading up to the 12th of April. At the same time, though, maybe there’s something deeper to it that I need to think about this year.

Sure, I could give up facebook, stop listening to Drive This with my morning tea, or intentionally deny myself the opportunity to spend money on this or that. All good things. Periods of self-denial are healthy and right, and as Nathan Colquhoun recently wrote, surely there are any number of things that we can and possibly should live without.

At the same time, I struggle with the posture in which this is undertaken. Is it all about struggling through forty days of denial just to say that I have the willpower to do it? Or is it meant to be an opportunity to replace certain habits with others and open the door for a meaningful internal and external change?

For me, I think lent should be all about intentionally engaging in certain Christian practices and habits that go beyond self-denial and extend outwards. Yes, the things that I mentioned earlier can and do indeed hold me back from being able to become more gracious and generous with my time and money, but it can’t be enough to simply deny myself of that. At some point, I have to ask, ‘for what?’ And that’s where I have to consider how the freeing of my time and money translates into my relationship with God and neighbor.

That’s the challenge I am laying down for myself this lent season. Hopefully it will bear some fruit as we March towards Easter.

  1. I very much identify with your thoughts Ian.

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