Giving it up for Lent
This might be hard to believe, but sometimes I get a bit full of myself. Get off on some track or other and before I know it, I’m preaching, proclaiming and other wise carrying on as if I had an inside scoop on the path to salvation. Frankly it can be a tad hard to take. So I’ve decided to give it up. At least for Lent.
Christians have been giving things up for Lent for a very long time. It’s a tradition going back to the days of the early church, one more strictly observed these days in the Eastern Church than in the West.
In the churches of the Eastern Orthodoxy, believers continue the ancient practices. For the forty days of Lent, they become vegans. No meat, no eggs, no dairy. In the churches of the West, many believers give something significant up. A food, a practice, a necessity, a luxury. In both, many take something on. Something of significance, something that contributes to the kin-ship of all creation.
Jesus spent forty days fasting and undergoing temptation in the wilderness. Tempted with all the power anyone could want. All he needed was to turn away. Turn away from others, turn away from healing, turn away from love. He didn’t. He gave it up. Gave up the power and took on a ministry of love, instead.
During the season of Lent Christians remind themselves that all the power in the world and out of it can’t hold a candle to love. We do it by giving up. We do it by deepening our love, by emptying out so that we can be filled up.
Who would I be, if I didn’t too?
During Lent I will remind myself of love’s path by giving up food during daylight hours. Each time I am tempted I will remember (I hope) that I do not have all the answers, I do not have the only voice, I do not know the only truths, mine is not the only path on the road to the salve that Jesus calls Christians into.
The only salvation there is.
Let’s give it up.
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.