I certainly fell into the Festive camp on Christmas Day, but as I surveyed a mini-tsunami of wrapping paper after the gift giving, I also found myself wondering yet again about both excess and sloth. Even our cats (who move as little as possible under normal circumstances) hardly bothered to roll over between Christmas and New Year. In the midst of all this, it’s pretty easy to lose the image of a child born in a backwater, growing up beside the poor and living out his call to share bread with strangers. Even more challenging is translating the sentimentality of the Christmas season into something solid and life changing all year round.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably hoping to regain a bit of a balance now that you’ve settled back into work. No doubt top of the list: cutting back on excess, paying more attention to our inner lives and perhaps thinking more consistently of others.
In a couple of weeks on Feb 10, just as school goes back and most of us wonder where on earth January went, the season of Lent will begin. Typically it’s the time in the Christian calendar to reflect on our spiritual lives in a quest for growth, forgiveness and connection. These forty days are a God-given opportunity to recalibrate: heart, mind, spirit.
With this in mind, I’m planning to take up a Challenge through UnitingWorld’s Lent Event – attempting to live simply, reflect more deeply on my faith and act to support people working hard to free themselves from poverty. For me and my family, it’ll be a chance to start the year right by thinking about what we eat and why, including the little luxuries we sometimes enjoy a little too much (snack foods, the occasional take- away including lunch at work, desserts, alcohol) and our reliance on technology. We’ll donate the money we would have spent on all this to a couple of projects I’ve seen first-hand creating change in the Pacific, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
We’ll also be aiming to spend time reflecting, meditating and praying, reading and learning about our faith as well as the faith of our partners in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. I’m often amazed by how easy it is to see people in these parts of the world as ‘needy’ and underestimate their creativity, spiritual depth and sheer courage.
Through it all, I’m hoping that February and March won’t only be times of growth for our family, but will contribute to the efforts of people who probably didn’t get a chance to lose themselves in a cheese platter this Christmas.
If you want to get involved, check out www.Lentevent.com and sign up today. There are plenty of ideas to make Lent a time of simple living as well as action alongside some of the world’s poorest people. More resources, including an app (download it right now from the App Store and Google Play), videos and resources for children, are being added every week in the lead up to Feb 10.
Time to make plans to end the confusion? Lent Event could be exactly what you’re looking for.