I wonder if you observe Lent by giving something up or doing something different. I have heard of folk giving up chocolate, alcohol, coffee and crisps, some have tried to look at how they spend their time and stopped watching their favourite soap. Some have said they will do something different, maybe contact the family and friends more often or read the Bible more or some have adopted the idea of doing 40 random acts of kindness [40acts.org.uk]. As you read this some of you maybe thinking there is no point to it all. Well….
I seem to have got into a pattern over the last number of years of Giving up chocolate one year and doing something different the next. The giving up of chocolate reminds me every time I see chocolate what Christ gave for me on the cross. In years when I eat chocolate during Lent I think about Jesus every time I eat it [and I do like chocolate], hence both serve the same purpose.
I remember early on in my ministry when I visited an elderly couple and I was offered homemade chocolate cream cake and I had the dilemma do I refuse it and offend them or do I just eat it? After a moments thought I explained why I could not have any but was delighted they felt able to tuck in and I joined them with a plain biscuit. That experience stayed with me and made me reflect even more on Jesus’ own temptation on his journey to the cross and how it provided an opportunity to talk about faith.
So as this year is an eating chocolate year and I am reminded in a book called ‘Giving it up’ by Maggie Dawn a series of daily readings for Lent where at the beginning she quotes Marcel Proust;
‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes’
She concludes her introduction by saying; ‘If we’re to draw closer to God, we need to be willing to give up some of our entrenched ideas about God in order to see him more clearly. It’s not so much giving up ‘false gods’; it’s more about identifying false or blurred images of God that have been picked up from the surrounding culture or from our imagination and allowing them to be replaced. We need to allow the light to be shed on those places where our idea of God is too harsh, too weak, too small, too fragile, too stern.’
I find whilst I agree with Maggie Dawn I am challenged to reflect on my own fixed views yet at the same time hope I can be open enough to Jesus to give me that sense of ‘new eyes’ in this new landscape I am in this Lent. I look forward to seeking to develop my relationship with Christ and with you all as we journey together.
So I pray through these challenging thoughts that we all may journey through the wilderness with Jesus this Lent and come through seeing our same landscape but with new sense of who we are and what we are about and where God wants us to go.
Your friend and servant