Posted: 22 January 2016

The purpose of Lent is not Lent

I don’t know about you, but I often begin Lent with a positive fervour of enthusiasm! I give up everything you could imagine, decide to read a large stack of books and generally commit myself to a life of unsustainable misery for six weeks. Surprisingly enough I rarely get all the way through Lent before I give up on my grand aspirations.Meaning that I arrive at Easter even less well prepared than I would have been otherwise.

It isn’t that there is anything wrong in making grand plans – there would be even less problem if I could actually do what I planned for six weeks – it is that all too often we forget the whole point of Lent.  


Get your resources for Lent

You can give, act and pray this Lent to support vulnerable young people.

Lent doesn’t exist so that you or I can demonstrate how good we are at giving things up or even at taking up new and transforming things.  The season of Lent exists to prepare us for Good Friday and Easter. Giving things up should clear space for us, in the mad rush of everyday life, to focus our attention on Jesus, who died so that we could live life in all its fullness; Lenten reading should fuel our prayer and reflection about Jesus and all he has done for us (not give us one more thing to feel bad about). The purpose of Lent is not Lent. It stands as a signpost to Good Friday; a period of preparation for Easter.

So this Lent, when you are making your plans about what to give up, to put down or take up, why not remind yourself of why you are doing it and choose something doable that can last for the whole six weeks?  So that, as Paul encourages us to do in Galatians 6.9, let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

One way of doing this this Lent is to join with us in our campaign to give, act and pray for vulnerable young people in our country; to prepare ourselves to celebrate at Easter the overwhelming love of God for all of us by showing that love to those in our communities who need love the most. Through simple daily activities, reflections and prayers you could make this Lent a season of compassion, what better way to prepare yourself to recall the sacrificial love of Jesus, the one who is the fount of all compassion?

By Dr Paula Gooder - Guest bloggers