Lenten Fast– Give up What?

March 6, 2012 at 2:23 am Leave a comment

Only a couple of weeks ago, Lent began. The Wednesday of ashes being sprinkled on my head. On the heads of others who would have them.There was a time when I didn’t think I wanted the ashes, didn’t want another reminder that our days are counted by someone else. And no reminder of pain and suffering. Maybe it was that I had all I could bear at that time and couldn’t conceive of adding any more.

It’s not that we’re so far removed from our human frailty, the need to turn our troubles over to God, to pray without ceasing, or to be reminded that someone else has the world in his hands. That someone loves us so much that he’s willing to give up his son for us. That’s a hard thing to understand for anyone, let alone parents who love their children.

Do we ever really understand the meaning of Lent? Oh, we try. We go through the motions easily enough. Go to church on Sunday, Wednesdays in Lent. Watch the calendar and count down the days until Lent is over. And we know that without Lent, there can be no Easter. Sometimes it’s more in the head than the heart.

I hear others talk about fasting, or giving up something for Lent. Even in our own church body, the bigger church. An article in Canada Lutheran about fasting. What should I give up? What would cost me some pain to do without? A luxury? What is a luxury for me? We have to eat. We have to nourish our bodies somehow. My craving, sweet tooth, give up something for Lent? I struggled with “the what” for more than a week.

Maybe that is what the gnawing struggle of a Lent fast is all about — the growing pains of grace.

That’s what Ann Voskamp wrote in her blog today. She’s struggling too. I think she had already named her fast while I was still thinking about it.

I was in the grocery store when it came to me. While I wait, I sometimes pick up a magazine to read, though not as often as I’d like to. I love to read, whether it’s magazines or books; it’s like a hunger sometimes, about as intense as … shall I name it? Chocolate.

One young man at church yesterday said he was giving up beer for Lent. Perhaps for him, having a beer with his friends will be a sacrifice. It wouldn’t be a hardship for me since I don’t drink beer.

I decided to give up buying magazines and books for myself during Lent. Goodness knows I have enough of them at home waiting to be read. I could purchase one as a gift for another person, for a baby gift I plan to buy, just not for me, at least not until after Easter. That’s going to be tough when I’m at the bookstore, signing, on the weekend, not to bring home a new book for myself. It will be hard to resist the temptation. Maybe I’ll regret the choice. But here, it’s out in the open.

One other suggested expression was to help someone else who needs support, to purchase items for the food bank or things the Working Centre can use to help their patrons. That’s an offering of ourselves, going out and shopping for some items they can use.

I suppose a fast will be different from one individual to another. This sacrifice will be mine for this Lent. Will it be hard? You bet!

Just a small reminder though, that it cannot compare with what Christ gave up for us.


Entry filed under: church, faith, sacrifice. Tags: , , , , , .

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