What are you giving up for Lent? This question frequently comes up this time of year and is usually answered with some sort of answer like “chocolate,” “lattes,” “alcohol” or “Facebook.” Giving something up can be helpful if it encourages spiritual growth or specific action, if money that would have been spent on chocolate or coffee was given to help someone in need, or if time spent on Facebook was spent in facetime with God, with family or with friends. Giving something up, however, can be rather self-focused. Instead of giving something up for Lent, imagine taking something on, something that focuses your attention on someone else.
The word Lent comes from the Old English word “lecten” which means to “lengthen” and is used to describe the great lengthening of days that occurs as the darkness and death of winter is replaced by the light and life of spring. Perhaps because of Covid, the increase of light is particularly noticeable this year… and the hints of spring are more welcome than ever. The lengthening of days reminds us that Lent isn’t as much a time of suffering and privation as it is a time of enlightenment and growth, leading to the new life of Easter itself.
Whether you give something up or take something on, I invite you to do something for Lent. Try compline, spending time with a Lenten devotional booklet, participate in a group or a class, volunteer with one of our outreach efforts, take a time for quiet and prayer every day, and make a goal of coming to church every Sunday. Do something for Lent and you will experience Easter in a whole new way.