I attended my very first Ash Wednesday service this week. And my Sunday school class is going through a book on Lent. These things are not a part of my past church traditions. I grew up evangelical in a heavily Roman Catholic part of the USA. While there was nothing disparaging or negative about it, Lent was just thought of as “something the Catholics do, not us.” I remember people talking about what they were giving up for Lent, and chocolate seemed the number one. A recent survey I saw indicates that chocolate is still number one.
My honest thoughts…Giving up chocolate for Lent? That never sat right with me. It still doesn’t. It almost seems insulting to God. Making light of the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Jesus gave his life, and we give up chocolate? That is lame. Sorry – just being honest here.
However, I appreciate the book our Sunday school class is going through: Give Up Something Bad for Lent: A Lenten Study for Adults. Here is a description:
During Lent each year, Christians give up something as an act of sacrifice and spiritual discipline. Often it is something like chocolate, knowing that after Easter Sunday they can once again enjoy what they have given up. James Moore challenges readers to take it further—to give up something spiritually that they would be better off not doing. He invites all to seek God’s help to focus on eliminating one habit or attitude that is destructive. Imagine giving up envy, jealousy, self-pity, apathy, procrastination, gossip, resentment, or negative thinking, how much better life would be. The forty days of Lent are ideal to use this study and prepare to give up something bad while preparing to fully embrace the “Good News” of Easter.
This “works” for me – spending Lent in repentance and prayer, being humble enough to admit a sin you struggle with, and seeking through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Resurrection power of Jesus to overcome a stronghold in your life.
I also really liked this idea: The Reverse Lent Challenge. Instead of giving something up, take something on! There are 5 ideas of things you can do to encourage or help people in your life. In a way, this is still giving something up – you are giving up your time and altering your priorities. This is sacrifice. This “works” for me too.
Any other Lenten thoughts out there? Again, I am not trying to be judgmental to anyone who gives up chocolate, but only sharing how I perceive it, and wanted to share these alternative ideas.