Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lent Blog 2: giving things up

Lots of people set out to give things up for Lent - it's a kind of backstop if you fail to keep your New year's resolutions. Many second attempts to quit chocolate / smoking / booze etc are as unsuccessful as their January counterparts.

For many people, the tradition of abstinence in Lent has outlived the religious commitment that gave it its rationale. Lent is a season of preparation - and hence, traditionally, people fasted and saved richer foods and other pleasures until the Easter celebrations came around. That's why Shrove Tuesday is a time to use up those foods before the season began, and what better way than to make pancakes.

In churches that do Lent by the book, the robes and furnishings that are seasonally coloured go purple to signal a more sombre mood, the words of the service adopt a more penitential tone. We also avoid saying or singing 'alleluia' (which immediately makes me think of a scene in Life of Brian where someone is accused of saying 'Jehovah'!)

But how could you make that more meaningful? How could adopting a discipline become something more than simply a personal or individualistic piece of tokenism?

Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Tear Fund's Carbon Fast. Learn about the impact of our lifestyles in the West on the poor in the world, identify actions you can take, join in campaigns and raise awareness. Daily email available for reminders and ideas.
  2. Visit and write a prayer. 6 Church of England Bishops are committed to using prayers you provide!
  3. Christian Aid provides a calendar in pdf format to 'Count Your Blessings'. Each day has a statistic or piece of information about the developing world and an action or donation relating to it. Save up the donations and send it in at the end. Gift Aid it if you can.
  4. CAFOD, the Catholic aid angency has a Give It Up for Lent 2010 resource which aims to link what you give up to donations you make.
  5. If you use Twitter, why not post a tweet about Lent, what it means to you, or what action you are taking. Don't forget to add a 'hashtag' #Lent to make your tweet easy to find for others.
Me? I'm not using Twitter or Facebook for Lent (although this blog and one or two campaign actions will feed through) I heard a piece on the radio about all the 'noise' in our lives, and so I'm letting it all go quiet for a bit. Somehow I'm not going to miss all that stuff about Farmville etc.

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1 comment:

Emma said...

Last year I was really challenged at Inspire and gave up ASDA and other multinational supermarkets for Lent, thinking about my food miles and the eco and social credentials of the food I was buying. I haven't looked back. I now eat healthier and waste less, apart from other benefits. This year I'm using the Tearfund Carbon Fast to get me thinking about other ways I can make better and well considered choices.