These days Lent for me means something important.
Coming from a non-traditional church background, it was never really a big thing. I wasn’t ever interested in giving things up (mainly because I have the self-control of a wet noodle) and despite being a fervent follower of Jesus have never been all that attracted to “religious” activity. However, in the past few years, after mixing a bit more with people of Faith from other traditions I’ve started to fall a little bit in love with liturgy and patterns and realised that in my yearning to reject “religion” I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I also realised that a lot of what I loved about Story and Community relied on the patterns of life and the symbols and metaphors we need to navigate our way through this life tethered to a greater something. And so, I’ve started taking Lent a little bit more seriously, as well as a number of the Traditional Church festivals that I’ve only recently been introduced to. (Big fan of Candlemas now, totally joining a friend of mine in pitching to promote it as a festival we need to get behind).
A big part of this the last few years, and now this year is the “40 Acts Lent Challenge”. It’s a different way of approaching Lent in that rather than giving something up, we embrace generosity, community and the way of The Kingdom in lifting up those around us. I posted a series of blogs (my favourite one here) a couple of years ago throughout Lent and I’m aiming to do the same this year.
So where do we start?
With Circles. Read the 40 Acts challenge here
The social circles we move in; the social dance we undertake every day between friends, family, work colleagues, acquaintances and friends of friends; the clamouring for attention and affection; the competing for the attention of the Alpha, or to be the alpha; the levels of influencing, the levels of following, the levels of rebelling. Who do you see each and every day? Who do you interact with face to face? Who do you interact with via text or ‘phone? Who do you interact with via the different levels of social media.
I thought of a couple of ways to represent the people in my life and the social circles I move in. How they spread out from me, in levels of affection and intimacy, and how they relate to each other and me.
But the most important thing for me is that it’s not enough to just draw a couple of cool diagrams and think “Oh that’s nice, look at all these people in my life”. But it’s what they represent, the pain they might be going through, the needs that must be met, the joy they can share. So I will spend the evening praying for each person I’ve given an initial to in my increasing circle diagram. And then I will spend time praying for each area as shown in my inter-related diagram. And then I’m going to go and DO what needs to be done – or at least try.
I hope you can join me this Lent in being deliberately generous, in sharing all of yourself, in giving hope. God Bless.