Lent is a season of somberness, a time in which we come face-to-face with our frailty as humans, our sinfulness apart from Christ, and our mortality in this body of death. We grieve the brokenness in this world, and we cry out against the injustices we see around us. We mourn and lament sickness and death and cry out for forgiveness and deliverance from the sins that plague our own souls.
Quite frankly, Lent is not a fun season. It’s heavy. But it’s beautiful too, precisely in its permission to recognize that the Christian life is not all smiles and sunshine. In this world, we will have trouble, Jesus promises, and the season of Lent permits us to be honest about those troubles, even as we press on toward Easter Sunday with the hope that Jesus has overcome the world.
Let’s be honest: it’s infinitely easier to give up fancy coffee than it is to love that family member who wounded you in childhood. It’s easier to cut a check to your favorite charity than it is to sacrifice your time and energy.
Yet sacrificial love is precisely the heart of Lent because Easter is the story of Jesus’ love poured out for us.
Sacrificial love is precisely the heart of Lent.
This life of love is not meant to earn God’s favor; Jesus already did that through His death on the cross. We’re not trying to impress God or curry His goodwill. Quite the opposite. It is because of Jesus’ great love toward us, filling us, and flowing through us that we live lives of sacrificial love. This isn’t an equation of earning; it’s a response of gratefulness.
Give up eating at restaurants for Lent opting instead for simple meals like soup and bread. Read Isaiah 58:6–7 and discuss the true fast that God wants from us. Place the money you save in an offering jar to buy grocery store gift cards for families in need.
Deliver a bouquet of flowers to someone who has lost a loved one this past year, and pray for them specifically.
Memorize a longer passage of Scripture together, learning a verse a week (great ones to start with are Isaiah 53, John 19, Philippians 2, or 1 Corinthians 13). Take turns saying a verse around the dinner table, or make up signs to go with the verses.
Give up a luxury during Lent, like dessert, fancy drinks, clothes shopping, or entertainment. Invite your family to join you, but please don’t make this obligatory. Rather, model the joy of giving up a good gift for the purpose of discovering the better gift of Jesus’ sustaining presence.
Drink no beverages but water for the remainder of Lent, and donate the money you save on coffee or other drinks to an organization that provides clean water to impoverished communities.
Host a night of praise and worship, inviting friends, family, and neighbors to join you. Make enough copies of well-known song lyrics (like the ones included in the weekly celebrations) and invite your guests to bring musical instruments. Or, if you want to keep things simple, create a playlist and stream songs through a speaker. Consider setting aside time for prayer, as well as a time of communion.
Consider a total or partial fast on Good Friday, from Thursday dinner until Friday dinner, to commemorate the suffering of our Lord Jesus. Use the time you’d typically spend preparing food and eating to read the crucifixion account in the gospel of your choice.
by Asheritah Ciuciu
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