This year, February 26th is the first Sunday in Lent. Over the following five Sunday taking us up to Palm Sunday when Holy Week begins, worship will naturally follow themes which prepare us for the events of Christ’s passion. But what else could we do to deepen our thinking and strengthen our devotions at this particular time ? What I suggest is that you choose one or two things from the list below – or adopt one or two other things that you can think of yourself – and take them on for Lent as a means of helping you get a bit closer to God.
Why? Well, the purpose is certainly not to earn some kind of ‘points’ for being good. The aim is self-knowledge and growth in our lives and understanding as Christian people. I always believe its much easier to take something on then to give something up. So: why not give it a go ?
In deciding what to do, I offer three suggestions.
1) Your Lenten ‘discipline’ should be relevant in helping you think and prepare for Easter;
2) It should make a difference. You should notice, each day, that you are doing something ‘special’ because it is Lent;
3) While it should make a difference, it should also be realistic. Otherwise, all you will succeed in doing is become frustrated, disappointed and, even, angry with yourself.
Here’s the list of suggestions. Choose a couple – and remember to do them !
- Attend church every Sunday, without fail.
- Attend services during Holy Week / or Good Friday
- Devote a fixed period each day/ week to think/ pray about your faith
- Abstain (if it will help you) from something – coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol (and donate the equivalent amount to the church)
- Visit one or two folks whom you know to be lonely
- Spend some time each day/week in silence. Finish by saying the Lord’s Prayer
- Try to live a bit more calmly. Try doing just one thing at a time
- Stop gossiping about others
- Ask God to forgive those whom you cannot forgive yourself
- Contact family/ friends with whom you may have lost contact
- Pray for your minister/ congregation/ community/ neighbour/ colleague
- Read St Mark’s Gospel at least once.