Ways to Observe Lent

Somehow, the idea of giving up something pleasurable, usually a food or drink, got stuck in the popular thinking about Lent. Jesus never suggests any such thing. Nor is Lent a time for a temporary change of behavior, which then you get back at Easter. It is a time to try to make permanent changes.

Lent is a time for repentance. The Hebrew word is tshuvah or “turning;” the Greek word is metanoia or “changing mind.” So think of it as a conscientious and mindful turning away from what’s wrong with the world and turning back to God’s ways.

Here are some concrete suggestions:

  • Social media and Facebook have been widely shown to increase anxiety and unhappiness. Try limiting or eliminating your time, and devote that time to prayer, Scripture, volunteering, meditative walks, etc. Video games and devices are designed to be addictive. Parents and children can covenant together to reduce or eliminate their screen time (and spend that time together!).
  • Volunteering is a great way to get in the habit of caring for others and getting out of your own ego. Ask our Missions Board for ideas.
  • You don’t have to give up chocolate, which is kind of healthy. But our food habits bring with them lots of ethical baggage. Try reducing your meat consumption: go meatless one or several days a week (that’s an ancient tradition!). Or try local, free-range meats (available at Dave’s produce stand, Atkins, Whole Foods). These are usually more expensive—so eat less! But the animals are subject to much better conditions. Or eat fish and seafood instead of pork and beef.
  • Take time to attend to the health of your body, not just for you, but to be a better partner to God and others. De-stress with deep breathing and body relaxation, in prayer or meditation. Exercise regularly.
  • Reach out prayerfully to someone from whom you are estranged. Even if it goes nowhere, you will feel better.
  • Attend the 9:30 Faith Formation classes to deepen your faith
  • Change your media habits by shedding the more divisive, partisan sources and changing to fairer sources. We have a chart that rates them!
  • Review and adjust your energy consumption to reduce your carbon use and promote environmental health
  • So many in our congregation have been harmed by alcohol and substance abuse. Lent is a good time to try cutting back on alcohol to gauge whether you are dependent on it. And to seek help and treatment if you are dependent on alcohol or other substances.