Saturday, 5 March 2011

Lent: Giving up and taking up

I love the rhythms of the Christian year. I think it odd that some people avoid the patterns of the Christian year which I find so helpful in following the Gospel story. In addition, the fact that fellow Christians across the denominations and throughout the world are also on the same journey I find extraordinarily meaningful and moving.

And so I have been giving some thought to Lent which is fast approaching.

I rather wish we (in the C of S) did a bit more with Ash Wednesday. But I am planning a small step in St C's this year with an Ash Wednesday style of liturgy on the evening of the 1st Sunday of Lent. Next year perhaps we will actually move it onto Ash Wednesday!

In this I have been encouraged and inspired by the excellent 'Book of Common Worship' of the Presbyterian Church USA which includes a liturgy for Ash Wednesday which has within it the imposition of ashes. So if a Reformed and Presbyterian Church in America can do it, why can't we?!

So what about giving things up for Lent? Well, I suppose I think it is all rather easy to 'give something up' as if we are renewing failed New Year's resolutions. But it is not a bad practice if it is viewed as a kind of 'little fast' and offered as a spiritual act. So, yes, I am giving something up for Lent in that spirit.

But it would also be good to 'take something up' for Lent... a pattern of prayer, a commitment to support some group or organisation working for peace or justice, a new commitment to environmental action... whatever.

As well as giving something up I am planning to take something up.

Anyone willing/planning to do likewise?

(PS - in the light of my previous post - no need to share either what you are giving up or taking up!! The details are between you and God, it is the principle that I am interested in discussing!!))


  1. I hope you don't mind me commenting.

    I do agree about the connectedness with other Christians one has when following the lectionary - not just here and now but through time as well.

    For Lent, instead of giving something up, I tend to take a more positive view. Giving up seems so negative (I do understand the penitential aspects etc), so I intend to do something which is more positive for me. This year I intend to make a special effort to be patient with someone who annoys me considerably and to find God's image within them, which has eluded me so far. I may even smile with them. Whether I can keep to this for forty days (minus Sundays!) will be a mighty challenge for me.

  2. I got the Book of Common Worship while I was a student on the recommendation of Ian Torrance!! It has some lovely liturgies - I have used many of its prayers for funerasl and indeed for weddings.
    I too have pondered the give up/ take up and in recent years rediscovered it; years of enforecemnt as a child did rather sour what is actually a very meaningful experience when undertaken in good heart.
    And... I too embrace the thought that Christians of a whole variety of backgrounds are all on similar journeys through the liturgical year
    "Remember man that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return"

  3. Half way through day one! Hope folks are coping with their 'giving up' and / or 'taking up'!

    So far so good for me.... mainly!