So, what are you going without for Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter (4th April)? Chocolate, alcohol, cakes, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney plus, TV, etc? I’ll not tell you what I’ve given up, but I’m certainly saving a few bob for charity as a bonus.
I came across some sheep knee deep in neeps while cycling in the Hunterston Estate. Looks like they’ve given up grass for Lent. When I asked Sean, Baaarbara, Baaarny, Belaaa and Sheilaaa if these turnips were leftovers from Burns’ Suppers, I was quickly told not to mention HAGGIS, a sensitive subject for sheep. But why go without something for Lent?
We identify with Jesus who went without food for 40 days and nights. Man, would I be crabbit and grumpy after that!? But Jesus shows remarkable resilience and determination as Satan challenges his identity, “If you are the Son of God: turn this boulder into bread. If you are the Son of God: jump from the high Temple top for an angelic bungy to save you. If you are the Son of God: bow down and worship me and I’ll give you the world.” Each time Jesus comes back at Satan with Scripture and inner assurance that he truly is The Son of God and to go the way of the cross, in service and sacrifice, not self-service, self-adulation or Satan’s short-cuts.
And so, this period of going without and being stripped of valuables allows us to identity with Jesus in his journey and confirm in our soul who we truly are, beloved children of God. We can become more like Jesus in character and obedience to God’s will as we ‘fast and pray’. It’s also an invitation to bring something positive into our lives and to those around us.
So, how about a ‘Negativity Fast’, going without negative comments about people (especially behind their back) and being intentional about saying positive things to, and about, people wherever possible? Let’s learn to flip our feelings when tempted to criticise or bring someone, or a group, down. Whether already fasting for Lent or not, will you join me in becoming more positive towards others, especially those we dislike and find difficult?
Perhaps we could focus on different groups of people each day to practice this with, to think of, pray for and find a way to bless them somehow? E.G. Monday: Neighbours; Tuesday: Colleagues; Wednesday: Family; Thursday: Friends; Friday: Political Enemies; Saturday: Competition; Sunday: Other Churches / Groups. You can find your own categories and commit to ditch negative, undermining comments and proactively convey positive messages of encouragement to people. And let’s see how such positivity changes our environment, relationships, outcomes and how we feel about ourselves and others.
Afterall is this not the kind of world Jesus lived and died to birth?