What to give up for Lent?

If you’re looking out your home or office window right now seeing mounds of snow and ice the start of spring understandably seems like wishful thinking.

Yet with the start of Lent today, Ash Wednesday, reminds us that Easter is once again closer then we think.

Traditional services today will often end with a pastor making the sign of a cross on the forehead of worshippers. The question then becomes what to give up as representative of the fasting and sacrifice Jesus made during his time of temptation in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11)

Some sort of fasting or giving up a favorite food, often chocolate or sweets, is a popular choice. So too is a bad habit like smoking or as some respondents to a Michigan newspaper blog suggested, swearing.

One interesting idea is to use Lent as a call to service, to apply the biblical notions of time, talent and treasure to help in a meaningful way. This certainly is a very personal endeavor and would mean many possible outcomes for different people, but it strikes me as a positive twist on an annual question.

If you can use Lent to shed a few pounds or end something as damaging as a nicotine addiction that’s great and shouldn’t be discounted. If you can use to identify a need to serve in your church or community to form a good new habit that may end up being even better.

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