As you are probably aware Lent starts on Wednesday. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness after his Baptism being tempted with many of the things that I think we are tempted with today – the desire for material things, worshipping things other than God and putting God to the test.
Jesus moved into our neighbourhood to experience all the ups and downs of human life. In the wilderness he suffered hunger, fear and isolation – experiences that are well known to the many who are hungry and homeless in our society today. Lent invites us to do what Jesus did – to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering so that we can share their pain, and do something about it.
There are many different resources available to us to help us to make changes to our lives in Lent. Below are some that I’ve come across:
Count Your Blessings
Christian Aid suggests: “Take time this Lent to count the blessings in your life and reflect on God’s abundant provision with your congregation, your family or your small group. You can also download copies of our children’s and young people’s Count Your Blessings, full of engaging facts and inspiring actions, for your Sunday school or youth group.” Each week has a different theme, and each day gives you something to think about and an action to take.
End Hunger Fast
“Britain is hungry. Half a million people used food banks in the last year. Charitable support programmes are rapidly expanding but nonetheless a quarter of families are shrinking portion sizes. 5,500 people were admitted to hospital for malnutrition last year.” The EndHungerFast campaign encourages you to fast during Lent – whether that is for a whole day, missing a meal each day or going without food for a longer period. Fasting – what a way to stand in solidarity with those who are hungry. That followers of Jesus would spend time fasting is a given in the Bible – why don’t you take this Lent as an opportunity to give it a go yourself? And whatever food you don’t eat – contribute the equivalent amount of money or the food itself to a local Foodbank so that they can continue to support those who are genuinely hungry.
Spend a Penny
“Cord invites you to do something different this Lent; take on the Spend a Penny Challenge! Find out just how important water is in your life, and to the families Cord works with in Burundi.” Each time you use water during Lent you give some money to the charity e.g. flushing the toilet costs you 1p, using your washing machine will cost you 50p. Learn to appreciate your easy access to plentiful, clean water and stand in solidarity with those who don’t have easy access to any water at all.
40acts: do Lent generously
Join Stewardship’s Lent movement and you’ll receive emails which will encourage you to take a daily challenge: “40 nudges in a generous direction, alongside 40 blogs to read and ponder”. There are resources for individual use, and as doing things together is often so much more rewarding, there are also group resources for use with friends or in housegroups etc. Hold each other accountable for the actions you take.
Lent 40: Lighter
Sign up to receive e-mails from the inspiring Brian Draper. He writes: “Lent 40 is a unique series of 40 short e-mail reflections. You get a fresh burst each morning, and you, me and anyone else who’s signed up begins a journey together, sharing wisdom and encouraging each other along the way. We focus on key Lenten themes; we try simple daily actions to put ideas into practice; and we report back through the popular RSVP section. Lent 40 maintains an intimate one-to-one feel – yet the shared wisdom of the group as a whole creates an experience which is far greater than the sum of its parts.”
This Lent, Tearfund’s Rhythms wants you to “TAKE UP a new thing, we want you to start living a new way; to take up freedom and to come with us as we attempt to pursue freedom in every area of our lives this Lent. Some of the challenges are simple. Some aren’t. But each will help set us free, lead us to find freedom, to find more of the life of fullness that Jesus calls us to.” Download the actions from their website or follow them on Twitter for a daily tweet.
So many great resources – why don’t you select one (or more!) and do something differently this Lent.