What are you giving up for Lent?

Ash Wednesday is upon us…and with that we have Lent…and with THAT we have the "big question" – "What are you giving up for Lent?"  I know that there isn’t anything really biblical about that tradition, but it is something that I have done in the recent past.  I do it because it reminds me of the great and awesome sacrifice that Jesus made for us…a sacrifice that cost him his life and gave us eternal life.  I do know that if I do not give up something God will still love me; that I won’t be censured by the church and that people will not look down on me.  If I choose to give up something for Lent, it will be my choice.

Last night my wife and I were talking about this when she started pondering what she was going to give up.  Last year she gave up ice cream (something she loves dearly) but she said that was too hard so she won’t do that again.  Then she said, "I did think about chocolate, but there are too many things I really enjoy that have chocolate like my morning mochas and ice cream…so maybe I won’t do that."  Then I said, "Giving up something for Lent is not suppose to be easy.  If it is not a sacrifice for you then what’s the point."  That statement pretty much ended our conversation.  So I am not sure where we are at with this whole giving up something thing.

How about you?  What do you do?  Do you give up something for Lent or do you think it is just some silly tradition people hold?  I do think there is some value in it if it is done for the right reason.  If you are giving snacks thinking that will help you lose weight, then maybe that motivation is not pure.  If you are giving up TV because you think you watch too much then maybe that is not good either.  Then again, maybe I am completely off base.  If so…what is the point of giving something up for Lent?  Does Jesus really need it?  Do we really need it?

When I think more about this…about really taking this seriously and giving something up that I really, really enjoy I wonder what it would be like to give up…say…coffee.  I drink a few cups a coffee a day – some in the morning and then the afternoon.  I don’t know…40 days without coffee might drive me insane, but then again, if Jesus gave in to temptation and came down from the cross or avoided it all together, then we would all be damned.  Hmmm…

What do you think?

-edh-

6 thoughts on “What are you giving up for Lent?

  1. Eric,
    Thank your for getting me thinking some more about this, as I am getting ready to preach an Ash Wednesday sermon.

    I think you are correct that, if we give up something for Lent that is bad for us anyway, then we probably should give it up for good – or keep it to a very small amount each day (I am thinking chocolate…).

    I don’t think I am going to give up any one thing for Lent this year, but I am going to do two things:

    1. Spend more time in prayer and Scripture reading each day. Bill Easum wrote something that convicts my heart as a pastor: “If you as a pastor spend less than 10 hours per week on your own spiritual development, you are hurting the church as well as your leadership ability.”

    2. Fast at least one day each week. Jesus fasted. Fasting was a common practice in the church throughout history. I just do not fast, plain and simple, and I should – and spend the time I don’t spend eating in prayer. How many of you Lutherans or other Christians fast regularly? What is your experience?

  2. The hardest thing for me to give up right now would be the computer. When I’ve been away and had no access, I didn’t miss it, but here…..

    Maybe I “should” give up getting a new car. Well, I wouldn’t have anyway.

    Maybe it should not be about “giving something up” but about “giving something”, some thing of value, could be monetary value, or giving of our time. I’m selfish about my time.

    I found it interesting when we visited an acquaintance in Utah who was Mormon that he said that very few people ate in restaurants on Sundays. He said that Mormons were encouraged to not just give $$ on Sunday so that they could give $$ for poor people to have food, but that they were asked to give up a meal on Sunday and give the money that they would have spent on food for poor people. That way people are not just giving of their surplus, but all can participate, all can give, and they give of themselves.

  3. A friend of mine said he did a 40 hour fast to start Lent one year, so I decided to try that. And I am embarassed to say that I made it 19 hours…how sad is that. I haven’t tried a fast since.

    Eric – that comment about spending 10 hours a week on spiritual development convicts me as well. I spend a lot of time on professional development but personal, spiritual development…probably not as much. I find that when I read scripture I catch myself dissecting it and wondering how I would preach/teach this text. I need to shut my brain off sometimes and just enjoy the text and let it speak TO ME. Maybe that will be my lenten discipline this year.

  4. I think it’s a lovely tradition. Last year, I gave up red meat… this year it’s caffeine. Wish me luck!!!

    I also like the idea of taking on something for Lent. I’m trying that too.

  5. I like the ten hours idea. Being a seminarian one might think I send way more than ten hours in spiritual development, but that isn’t necessarily true. There is plenty of time in study of scriptire and theology, but a large chunk is academic. Devotion is quite another thing.

  6. Right on David. I read alot, but mostly for “professional” development. I think maybe getting out of my office might help shift my focus from reading for professional development to reading for personal spiritual growth.

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