What have you given up for lent?

04/03/09 | Posted by ellen

It seems that everyone around me has given something up for lent – the most popular being chocolate, wine, bread, cake, swearing and this year’s favourite facebook – it got me wondering why on earth we put ourselves through this annual 40 day fast and what does it all means?

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 Lent is the start of new hope

Lent is the time between pancakes and Easter Eggs…where the story of Jesus’ last days on earth are relived and remembered. For many it is an extended time for prayer, fasting, self-denial and for saying sorry to God. I guess with every cake not eaten, each glass of wine not drunk, every hour saved on facebook we are somehow offering a little back to Jesus as a thank-you for his life and death.

So, last week we many of us ate pancakes on shrove Tuesday to kick-start the fasting…the irony of pigging out on pancakes before sacrificing a little something is surely not lost on most of us! Some of us might even have found ourselves gathering with others on Ash Wednesday to start lent by praying for the weeks ahead.

Lent is preparing us for the terrible events of Holy week when the drama of Jesus’ last week are played out…Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem – on Palm Sunday; his last meal with his friends – Maundy Thursday; Jesus’ capture by the Roman guards and his terrible death on the cross – on Good Friday; His burial on the Saturday  and eventually Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday (when we get to eat all the chocolate again!).

This Year Easter Sunday is on 12th April – mark it in your diary because that is the day we remember the day hope came back in to our world…when Jesus, against the odds, rose from the dead and came back so the whole world might make sense again. 

I am giving something up this lent (white wine)…but I am also starting something up (by walking to work) because whilst I want to spend my 40 days sacrificing a little of the luxury I have I also want to give something back .

If you want to give something up or give something back this lent it’s still not too late…here are some websites with some ideas:

Carbon Fast with Tear Fund

Church Urban Fund has ideas for community engagement

Live Life Love Lent has some social networking ideas 

Christian Aid is preparing for a pilgrimage

You may well have many other ideas for giving up or giving something back if you do then do share it here…


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I resonate with your desire to give something back: that to me is much more what Lent is about. My own definition of Lent is simple: living on borrowed time - and I want to give some it back. I have friends who’ve given up facebook and blogging for Lent; others who’ve given up chocolate. Me: I gave up Lent for chocolate - fair trade chocolate, specifically; and I’ve taken up twittering.

Have the people who give up chocolate for Lent thought through the economic impact of that on the chocolate producers? Suddenly, they’re faced by 40 days of economic downturn as all these people who want to reJesus their lives try to boost their spirituality. No: don’t give up chocolate - change your chocolate habit; and make it a permanent change!

As for giving up facebook and blogging, cutting off friends and family: how does this help to build community? How does less facebook and less blogging help us love our neighbours more?

In Lent, ask not what you can give up but what you can give back!

#1. By Phil Groom on March 22, 2009

i no longer give up anything for lent as i don’t really believe that helps develop my relationship with God.

some times i take on extra things in lent like making a more conscious effort of attending a weekday service and the lent group - though this year it got stopped very abruptly for reasons not needed here.

but i think it is more important to remember that lent is a period to enhance our relationship with God.  To say sorry for our sins - if we don’t do so as a matter of course, and understand the suffering Jesus went through so that our sins are forgiven.  Giving up chocolate etc to me hardly constitutes understanding what Jesus did for us.  Good tool for children to experience but as adults we need to be looking deeper than giving up something.  May be saying sorry a whole lot more be something to think about for next year :-}

#2. By ann on April 10, 2009

Call me old fashion, but I gave up soda for lent. I know a lot of people do this, but it was particularly hard for me. I seem to drink about 3-4 sodas a day! Plus, I think I am addicted to them now, so this is a good thing to give up for a while.

#3. By Kelly Sanders on August 17, 2009

I think the Lent’s purpose is to make us reflect on our sins. A least for this short period we should be more careful about our behaviour. Showing compassion and praying more should be the right way to wait for Jesus resurrection, although people these days forget about this aspect, especially youngsters who can hardly wait to have the greatest Easter party in the neighborhood.

#4. By anne27 on January 22, 2010

I am abstaining from bread and any products containing yeast.

#5. By lisa hurley on February 20, 2010

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