Many people dread Lent. Church is gloomy, there are no flowers or decorations, and there are terms
like ‘Self Sacrifice’, ‘Discipline’ and ‘Self denial’ that suggest Lent is to be endured, not enjoyed.
Lent is seen as a time to give up most of what makes us happy, or of what just gets us through the
stresses of modern life. Lent is a time of 40 days plus Sundays, and it can seem to drag on forever for some people; we cannot wait for the joy of Easter. Instead of seeing Lent as a time of giving up why not look at Lent as a time when we can realign our lives to what God wants for us; a time when we look lovingly at our lives and assess what is good and pleasing to God and what is not. Lent can be about prayer, fasting and alms-giving to the poor. How can we make this more fun or interesting? How about a Lent Jar? At the beginning of Lent think of 40+ easy things you can do which will help you or the world. Write these on slips of paper and place them in a jar; then each day pick out a slip and complete the task that day. These things could include a visit an elderly neighbour to cheer them up or check if they are ok, to pray for the work of a charity or your local hospital, to write a hand-written letter to friend you have not seen for a while, to buy a couple more items in your weekly shop to donate to a foodbank, or to think and pray for someone you know who is ill. How about drawing for God? Each day spend some quiet time with a sketch book or journal and draw a picture of how you feel with God, something that reflects your relationship with him. If you don’t draw you can write a couple of sentences. By the end of Lent you will find that your relationship with God has grown deeper, even if your daily thoughts are negative. Fasting could be giving up meals to spend time in God’s presence, and maybe donating the savings to a charity or church; but fasting could mean making an effort to give up negative thoughts and giving up grumbling and moaning about life; each time you are tempted to moan perhaps bringing to mind a favourite bible passage or maybe psalm 143 v 8: ‘Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life’. If you don’t normally, try, as a family to eat one meal a day together, and talk to each other about your days. Turn off the TV and the phones and re-connect. Listen to God. Spend time without distraction. Turn off electrical goods, and stop and just listen to God. If you play music whilst driving try to spend the time in silence, and ask God to talk to you. I am sure you can come up with many ideas to make Lent a creative life-changing time. It doesn’t have to be about giving up and self-denial, it can be a time of renewal, a time of opening up to God and to life, a time of caring for yourself and those around you, so that when Easter Sunday finally arrives we will truly be filled with joy.