Preparing for Lent
By Greg Arnold
A few years ago, I asked a good friend what he was going to give up for Lent. Without much thought, he said, “Strong drink, fast cars, and night clubbing.” We chuckled for a few minutes.
He was my pastor.
Certainly, he was joking as he takes the Lenten season seriously. Lent is a time set aside to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us on the cross. But there is something we should be mindful of when we set our eyes toward sacrifice:
It costs us something.
In the Old Testament, God taught our forefathers of faith how to respond to His presence.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
––Deuteronomy 10: 17-18 (NIV)
Lent is a time to focus our attention on God rather than our own desires.
Our Lenten challenge is to contemplate how to line up our pursuits to match His desires,
- Can we care for the fatherless?
- Can we help single mothers and widows?
- Can we seek out strangers who need help?
- Can we feed and provide clothing and shelter for the homeless?
- Can we show love?
If we meet the needs of the people suffering around us, we will be living into Christ’s desire for us –– to love others.
Let's break the cycle of worrying about how the world is treating us and concern ourselves with how our neighbors are being treated.
Sometimes the best sacrifice is not the food we want to avoid or the habit we are trying to break; it’s giving time and attention to the people around us.
Maybe inside of our 40 days of service to others, we will find freedom from those little habits we are trying to defeat in our lives.
Greg Arnold, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men